Tag Archives: Idaho

Labor Day Smoke… Story by Catherine Ross

Labor Day of 2017 in Sandpoint was the worst in the entire country of the United States. The taste of smoke hung in the air and burned your throat and eyes. Each breath felt as if it were killing you. Which it was in a sense. On this Labor Day, the smoke in Sandpoint, Idaho was above 418 which is at very unhealthy and hazardous levels. The ranges of air quality that authorities and business judge from is simply good to hazardous. Good means the air quality is zero to fifty. However a hazardous day means the air quality is 301 to 500 and over. For Sandpoint, this meant that the young, old, and anyone with any respiratory illnesses or conditions were advised to stay indoors.

Burning up Idaho and Montana… This photo was taken on September 3, 2017, showing the heat that was detected by satellites. Photo by Wildfire Today.
Burning up Idaho and Montana… This photo was taken on September 3, 2017, showing the heat that was detected by satellites. Photo by Wildfire Today

The beautiful lake that many come from all over to see was covered in thick, heavy, gray clouds of smoke. Local boat rentals closed down that day, calling all their rentals back in, refusing to let anyone expose themselves to the dangerous air quality, but also the possibility of getting into an accident due to low visibility. These businesses were Action Water Sports and Sandpoint Marine Boat Rentals. While wildfires in Sandpoint, or in Northern Idaho haven’t been reported, the surrounding states have been in an unforgivable battle with the flames.

For around the past six months there have been wildfires that over 24,000 fire fighters have been battling. Usually around the third week of September, the fire season is mostly over, and the risks drop considerably. But this year, that’s not really the case. Montana, Southern Idaho, Washington, California, and Utah have been hit the worse. In Southern Idaho, 23 fires are currently active, one fire being the Payette Wilderness fire which is 87,496 acres in size. In fact, on Labor Day, the National Forest of Boise caught on fire, which led to harmful air quality there as well.

Smoke by Sandpoint... Visibility was low among Sandpoint's roads because of the smoke, and air quality was horrendous. Photo by Kai Eagley
Smoke by Sandpoint… Visibility was low among Sandpoint’s roads because of the smoke, and air quality was horrendous. Photo by Kai Eagley

The fire season this year is so bad due to how dry and hot it was all summer. The rainfall began to disappear as we headed into the warmer months, which created the perfect playground for fires to ravage. Many of these fires were in fact started by lightning, this especially applies to the Idaho fires.

Currently in Sandpoint the air quality is returning to normal and it’s becoming safer for people to open windows and enjoy whatever fresh air they can enjoy. However there are still some who are getting effected by the current weather. Many students with asthma are still wearing masks or at least having them with them whenever they go outside. While they aren’t the best thing to keep the smoke out, they do help filter it so it’s safer for the individual to breathe. It is no longer hazardous for people and animals, so life is slowly turning to normal once again, but the concern that a fire could possibly start closer to home is still in the air.

 

 

Politicians Debate Climate Change, Citizens left with the Blame…. Story by Davey Breakey

The Idaho senate has recently approved new K-12 science standards with the notable absence of key references to human caused climate change. Our state has had trouble agreeing on public science standards for the past three years. References to global warming and the origin of the universe were not accepted by the state in recent years because the “language did not offer alternative views.” However, this does not mean climate change cannot be taught in schools, standards are simply a minimum of what students are expected to know. To be clear, climate change is something that has been happening for millions of years, and we know this. Pollution and climate change due to human activity is a more closely related subject than one might think.

More than 97% of peer reviewed scientists say that humans are having an impact on the environment and we need to change our ways to prevent further harm to our Earth, but whose fault is it really? Is it us, the consumer, or the corporations?

Climate Change Graphed… Nasa shares data on the unnatural rise of carbon in our atmosphere
Climate Change Graphed… NASA shares data on the unnatural rise of carbon in our atmosphere

Blame for climate change and human pollution goes to the average person, but is it really our fault? The huge majority of modern manufacturers are using the cheapest material possible in order to produce the cheapest product possible without giving any care as to the impact it has on our environment. It is possible to seek out and only use products manufactured with clean energy and materials, however it is very difficult to do so in today’s society. The truth is that most people just don’t have time to do the research and are not willing to pay a higher price for a comparable product. The big corporate powers are only concerned with profit and will do whatever it takes to deceive consumers in order to sell more of their products. So, in all reality, it’s the major corporations of today’s society that need to make a change. But how will this change ever happen when these companies would never make any changes that could possibly reduce profits in any way? What we need is a nationwide policy that will give major corporations incentive to move to renewable energy.

There have been many attempts over the past few decades to bring attention to climate change and the detrimental effects it’s having on our Earth, just last week there was a nation-wide climate march where tens of thousands of people showed up in D.C. alone to show their concern for the future of our planet. While these events are great for bringing attention to the issue of climate change, something needs to be done, and quickly too. One organization that’s gaining traction across the U.S. is the Citizens Climate Lobby (CCL) and their compelling solution to the problem.

Concerned citizens… sandpoint locals participate in the nationwide march for a livable planet
Concerned citizens… Sandpoint locals participate in the nationwide march for a livable planet

The CCL is a non-profit, non-partisan, grassroots advocacy organization focused on national policies to address climate change. Their goal is to educate the public about climate change and take action across the nation, encouraging members to contact and influence their elected officials in the federal government. The CCL has equal support from conservatives and liberals alike. Keeping the organization non-partisan is very important to them because a livable planet is something people on both sides are concerned about and can only be achieved with combined efforts.

Their answer to reversing climate change is called the Carbon Fee and Dividend policy (CF&D). This policy would implement a rising fee on carbon emissions generated by major corporations throughout the nation. The revenue generated from this fee would be returned to American households as a dividend. This policy would create millions of jobs due to increased renewable energy useage and as a result would also boost our economy. If you want to learn about CCL and exactly how CF&D policy would work, you can check out their website here: https://citizensclimatelobby.org/. A local chapter for CCL has been formulated right here in sandpoint  recently and there will be a free presentation on Saturday, May 20th from 4:00 – 5:00 pm at the Forrest Bird Charter High School. CCL’s regional Northwest coordinator, Tim Dec, will be speaking on CCLs Balanced Climate Solution.

 

Does Idaho agree with Bernie Sanders?… Story by Davey Breakey

According to a recent poll by Fox News, Vermont senator Bernie Sanders currently has the highest approval rating of any U.S. senator. This poll included a variety of political leaders and other politically relevant organizations, favorability is calculated by subtracting the overall favorable views minus the unfavorable views.

I (Davey Breakey) have taken the initiative to poll the students and staff of the Forest Bird Charter School to see whether they support bernie sanders or not. This poll includes 30 different people chosen at random to participate. Here are the results of the poll…

Screen Shot 2017-05-08 at 2.27.09 PMOverall 63% percent approve of Bernie Sanders, 30 percent are neutral and 10 percent disapprove. Judging by this data, our school has a pretty strong supporter base for Sen. Sanders with a disapproval rating of just 10 percent!

One of the issues and most likely the reason for sanders popularity with young people’s views on making College and higher education Tuition and debt free. An interesting twist, could Idaho (one of the most conservative states in America) have the largest support group for Sanders ideas?

Wrapping up the SATs.... Mitzi Vesecky advises FBCS students, as well as manage state testing
Wrapping up the SATs…. Mitzi Vesecky advises FBCS students, as well as manage state testing

Every student with the opportunity to dual enroll in Idaho also gets $4,125 towards their college tuition saving them upwards $7,000 per year, according to 2017 Boise State tuition fee and possibly even more if you include other expenses such as boarding which is anywhere from $3,380 to $6,294 per year. Also, if we get into food costs you’re looking at an additional $3,900 for 2 meals a day throughout the academic year. All together you could be saving about $17,000 per year!

So if you are able to get your associate’s degree before you graduate high school–which according to Mitzy Vesecky is very difficult to do–you could be saving you or your parents $34,000 in college expenses, I’d say that’s pretty good!

Spring Thaw Causes Problems For North Idaho Residents… Mack Jastle

North Idaho winters are typically long, frigid, and relentless, routinely dragging on into the beginning of April.  Snow banks are slow to thaw, and several weeks of miserable rainy weather and slippery roads make travel a bother, to say the least.

However, recent spring weather has left many students high and dry in the transportation department, with mudslides blocking roads and floods preventing travel, even across some stretches of highways in the area.

Slippery Slope…Recent spring thawing has initiated weather warnings in the area, resulting in several mudslides over backroads and highways alike. Photo-by: KIVI
Slippery Slope…Recent spring thawing has initiated weather warnings in the area, resulting in several mudslides over backroads and highways alike. Photo-by: KIVI

Heavy rainfall over the past week, coupling with thawing snowbanks, have put many areas on risk for flooding, and the roads are becoming increasingly dangerous as conditions worsen.

 

As counties scrambled to deal with flooding and mudslides caused by the spring weather, Governor Butch Otter signed state disaster declarations for seven North Idaho counties on March 21st.

These counties included the Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Clearwater, Kootenai, Latah, and Shoshone counties.

Kootenai County has declared a flood emergency after heavy flooding has caused damage to property, and the potential for more damage looms still as more snow melts

Detour…Snowmelt and heavy precipitation have caused heavy flooding in many areas, closing roads and preventing travel. Photo-by: KBOI
Detour…Snowmelt and heavy precipitation have caused heavy flooding in many areas, closing roads and preventing travel. Photo-by: KBOI

and precipitation adds to the rising waters.

According to the Idaho Office of Emergency Management, twenty-five Idaho counties have local declarations pertaining to snowfall or flooding in their areas.  Water levels of the Coeur d’ Alene River, the St. Joe River and other bodies of water within the counties have risen dramatically, resulting in widespread flooding and roads being submerged under the water.

The weather has prevented many from being able to reach their work or get to school.  The rapidly rising temperatures, combined with frequent precipitation, have created a perfect set of circumstances for hazardous mudslides and flooding.

Weather advisories are in effect until early next week, as more precipitation is expected over the weekend.  Counties in the area are still on alert for mudslides, avalanches, and further flooding as the situation develops.

Solar Roadways Fact or Fiction?

Our Reporter explores the Solar Roadways project in Sandpoint, Idaho after many errors on their install.  The day the student journalism class went to test the panels, it led to a city police investigation. Unfortunately, the panels were not working on the day of Bird Eye News’ test. To this day, as of March 21, 2017, the panels are not producing any power that can be used by the city’s power grid.

Are the Solar Roadways fact or fiction?

Free Range Shooting… Story By: Lauren Stidham

Free Range Shooting… Story By: Lauren Stidham

At the Scene... Jack Yantis’ bull lying on the side of the road. Photo By: Pro Liberate
At the Scene… Jack Yantis’ bull lying on the side of the road. Photo By: Pro Liberate

November first, 2015. A free-range bull was hit by a station wagon in Council Idaho. The small car did not have enough force to kill the animal and instead left it injured, confused, and mad as could be. As it ran around, charging at whoever got too close, all dispatch called rancher Jack Yantis. Yantis was the owner of this 1.25 ton beast and was asked to come put it down before it could cause further damage.

This was a routine action. Yantis’ cows had been hit before in this free-range corridor. Like all the other times, he grabbed his 204. caliber rifle and went out to the scene. But, two deputies arrived first.

When the deputies , they opened fire on the bull with their 9mm and when that didn’t work and only agitated the bull more, one officer used a M16. Most people who have dealt with cattle would know that unless shot at just the right spot, both of these weapons will only injure the animal and make it suffer for a long time before it finally bleeds out and dies.

Jack Yantis, along with his nephew, Rowdy Paradis and wife Donna Yantis, came to the highway only to see that the sheriff’s deputies had arrived first. They wanted to put the bull down in a humane way. Yantis came up to the cow and positioned himself to shoot. However, before he could shoot, one of the deputies came up and grabbed Yantis’ shoulder. During the motion, Yantis’ rifle discharged once.

Family Man... Jack Yantis holding one of his grandchildren. Photo By: New York Times
Family Man… Jack Yantis holding one of his grandchildren. Photo By: New York Times

After the discharge, the deputies shot Yantis twice, once in the abdomen, once in the chest. After shooting, the deputies handcuffed and pinned Yantis’ relatives to the ground who were also on the scene. Yantis’ relatives were not assist him. Instead he was left to bleed to death similar to his bull dying next to him on the side of the road. During the commotion, Donna Yantis had a heart attack. She was brought to a hospital and kept there for a while. During this time, she missed her husband’s funeral.

The FBI and Idaho State Patrol are currently doing an investigation on this incident, trying to see if any state criminal violations or any federal violations occurred.  They have given no timeframe of which they will be done, which is a violation of the sixth amendments, the right to speedy trial.

But why did this happen? There is such a contrast between the interview with former police officer Patrick Pezzelle and this story. (see story) Pezzelle stated that he had five hostage situations during his career and all of them ended with no casualties, injuries, or shots fired. “This was accomplished because we had a plan in place to contain the suspect, control the environment, and [establish] communication with the suspect…We prepared to use force, but only as a last resort.” Said Pezzelle. Now a hostage situation seems more severe than a bovine in the road. What is the difference? Why did the five hostage situations go so much better than this story?

 

Local Community in Uproar… Story By: Lauren Stidham

Local Community in Uproar
Story By: Lauren Stidham

Men, women, and children are desperately fleeing wars in Syria. “For many, the choice to embark on such dangerous journeys seems the only way to give their children a chance of survival and safety.” – UNHCR. Out of the Syrian population, 4.3 million of them are refugees and 6.6 million are being displaced within their own country. Half of those are children.

Man carries girl from the ashes... This young man carries Syrian girl from the rebel of a heavy shelling attack on the Douma neighborhood of Damascus on June 16, 2015.
Man carries girl from the ashes… This young man carries Syrian girl from the rebel of a heavy shelling attack on the Douma neighborhood of Damascus on June 16, 2015. Photo By: Latin Times

So how is America helping these refugees? As you probably know, the US is helping refugees by taking them into our country and supporting them with our resources. As a nation, the U.S plans on taking in 10,000 refugees this year. Even though that is a nice little number, it is quite petty compared to the situation at hand. There are close to eleven million people that are being moved from their homes, and America is taking 0.07% of them. Eventually we hope to bring in a total of 30,000 but even that is still 2% of the total.

But even though the U.S. is only taking a small part of the total burden, how will this look for the cities and culture of America? Most people instantly jump to the security risk factor. The argument for this is that we are bringing in many people who are of the same religion and race as many terrorists that have viciously launched attacks on America and her allies.

In order to try to keep an event like that from happening again, the government has put into place a background/vetting system. The refugees have to pass a series of tests so that we can ensure that they shouldn’t be a threat to society. “It is not a perfect process. There is a degree of risk attached to any screening and vetting process. We look to manage that risk as best we can,” Nicholas Rasmussen, director of the National Counterterrorism Center, said. (FOX news)

So even though the U.S. has a basic screening process that refugees must go through, it is still possible that there will be mistakes. An argument against this is that since 9/11 the United States has taken in 784,000 refugees from around the world and only three of them have been arrested for crimes related to terrorism none of them were anywhere close to actually committing an attack against America. However, not very many of these people were from religions that members had declared war on our nation in the name of their god.

The truth... This picture depicts the true conditions of which Syrian refugees live in. Photo By: MyCause
The truth… This picture depicts the true conditions of which Syrian refugees live in.
Photo By: MyCause

So it is debatable whether the refugees could prove as a risk to our country, we really can’t say. There is evidence that supports both sides. “People fear what they don’t understand…” – Andrew Smith. America can’t truly know or predict if the refugees will be a threat. But the things that can be predicted and even known include how much it will affect the economy, how much resources the U.S. will need to support them, and possibly what cultural differences it will make if refugees are to be placed in a place like Sandpoint.

Have you ever tried to find a job in Sandpoint? It may not be impossible but it isn’t overly easy either. For a few years after the refugees come, it would be much harder to find an open job for teens and other people without complete and specialized education. Suddenly there would be approximately 350* more people competing of the same jobs that high schoolers and college students want too.

Then there is housing. Where could Sandpoint possibly fit an extra 700* people? Each family would need a home that would suit their own specialized needs. The refugees don’t just need housing for 700* people, they would need housing for a large group of families. Maybe the refugees would need three five-bedroom houses, two four-bedroom houses, six studios, and ten tree-bedroom houses. The city couldn’t simply provide them one or two large buildings to all live in, because it would create a very segregated culture.

Then, if we were successful in creating a non-segregated housing situation, in order to maintain that culture Sandpoint would need to equip the schools. The schools would need teachers that could speak Arabic and English fluently so that we could effectively teach the students. The question is, where can the schools find these teachers? Arabic isn’t a commonly spoken language and not only that, but the few who do speak Arabic are likely to not be qualified teachers.

Next, Sandpoint must observe the additional resources needed to effectively provide for the refugees. They would need food, clothing, proper tools for their religion, and transportation.

Obviously food would be a huge factor, for a long period of time, the refugees would not be economically stable enough to afford food. The same applies to proper clothing, perhaps they would have some clothing with them, but it is most likely that they would not have winter boots, jackets, gloves, and hats. What about transportation? Either the government would need to upgrade the Spot buses or somehow provide them with vehicles. Now this would all add up to a major bill, but who would be funding it? Would it be footed with tax dollars? If so, just about think how much taxes would have to go up.

What about their religious needs? They would need a place to pray and worship, but how could it ever possibly be funded through tax dollars? Really, there is no constitutional way to do that.

Should Sandpoint Embrace Syrian Refugees?

  • No (53%, 21 Votes)
  • Yes (48%, 19 Votes)

Total Voters: 40

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Sandpoint’s Small Town Mayor Race… Story by Charles Harrison

In the news recently there has been some buzz about the Sandpoint mayoral race. The only two candidates for mayor are Shelby Rognstad and Mose Dunkel. In a recent interview with the Sandpoint Reader, the candidates outlined their positions on issues such as the coal trains coming from Montana, legalized cannabis, and our local economy. For instance, Candidate Rognstad opposes the coal trains coming through the area. He cited worry about a spill or derailment, while Candidate Dunkel has stated that he would work with the railroads to keep the trains running smoothly and safely. Interestingly, despite their differences, they are both in favor of the legalization of marijuana. Rognstad called it a waste of police resources and Dunkel said that the ability to use marijuana was a liberty.

Business man... Shelby Rognstad stands in front of the Hive: a music venue that he helped to create.
Business man… Shelby Rognstad stands in front of the Hive: a music venue that he helped to create.

On Shelby’s website http://www.electshelby.com/he gave his political views on a number of issues. He wants to finish the fiber project that would bring ultra-high speed internet to Sandpoint. He also stated that he would improve our recycling program, fix our storm drainage system, and improve our wildfire response by collaborating with other fire regional services. He has also stated that he will improve police training involving subjects with mental health problems.

Ready to coach a new team... Mose Dunkel has been involved in student athletics, including little league baseball and football.
Ready to coach Sandpoint… Mose Dunkel has been involved in
student athletics, including little league baseball and football.

Mose Dunkel’s website http://mose4sandpoint.webs.com/ outlined his platform through a FAQ and issues page. He stated that one of his goals was to bring government and the people together. He has also vowed to bring transparency to the city government. He also wishes to lower utility costs to low income residents and stimulate the local economy by creating a local business friendly environment. He has also stated that he would like a community college campus here because it would allow people to stay in Sandpoint and train for local jobs.

Both of these people are good, decent candidates. I have a favorite, but in the interest of fairness, I won’t divulge his name. While I disagree with some of their stances on a few issues, I would not be disappointed if either one won. I encourage you to go to their websites, look at the issues, and make the decision for yourselves. And if you are able to go out on November third, do it, because you will be helping to create the community that you want to live in. Bonner Taxi will also be providing free rides to the polls, so you have no reason not to go. Their number is 208-597-FINE.