Kooskia mayoral recall heads to May ballot following signature drive

Charlotte Schilling

Stories from this compilation are excerpted from weekly newspapers from around the region. Look for Part 2 of this week’s Regional News Roundup in Sunday’s edition.

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KOOSKIA — A recall effort directed at Kooskia Mayor Charlotte Schilling was submitted in proper form last week.

City clerk Teresa Lytle confirmed that 66 signatures were validated by the Idaho County Clerk’s Office. A total of 76 signatures were gathered, according to former Kooskia Ambulance President Wayne Finehout, who has spearheaded the issue. Forty-five valid signatures were required to advance the recall effort.

Lytle said she informed Schilling on Feb. 28 that, according to state law, she has five business days to resign her position or a special recall election will be called.

Schilling said she is not going to resign, and said she had no further comment at this time.

— Ben Jorgensen, The Clearwater Progress (Kamiah), Thursday

Veterans town hall meeting draws crowd; VA reps discuss clinic closure, what’s next

GRANGEVILLE — More than 100 veterans and their spouses crowded the Idaho County Veterans Outreach and Community Center on Friday evening as representatives from the Walla Walla VA called a town hall meeting to discuss, among other things, the closing of the Grangeville VA clinic.

The clinic has operated via a contract through Syringa Hospital since September 2010.

Christopher R. Bjornberg, director of the Walla Walla VA, announced the Grangeville clinic will close when its contract expires the end of March. Though it was not discussed at this meeting specifically, the issue was previously discussed at Syringa Hospital board meetings.

Following the resignation of long-term Grangeville VA care provider Beth Montsebroten, FNP, Syringa was unable to recruit a new provider for that clinic. The reason given was that the VA has stringent guidelines and they would only issue six-month contracts, making it hard for a provider to commit.

Bjornberg assured the room that each veteran will continue to receive the standard of care they deserve. He explained the new veterans Mission Act “begins in June,” and in the interim the Walla Walla VA will make the transition “as seamless as possible.”

“As you know, things in the VA move really fast,” he said sarcastically, to a room full of chuckles. “This changeover is no exception.”

He said the biggest change for local veterans will be location of their services.

“You won’t be going to the Grangeville VA clinic — you will be making the choice where you want to go,” he said.

Syringa CEO Abner King was on hand — having met with Bjornberg and his leadership team prior to the town hall meeting — to give assurance to veterans as well.

“Syringa is committed to care for all veterans in our community. We’re prepared to transition that care” to the primary clinic or another place of choice.

— Lorie Palmer, Idaho County Free Press (Grangeville), Wednesday

Snow record set at Kamiah

KAMIAH — If you thought February was snowier than usual in the Clearwater Valley, it’s because it was much snowier — record-setting, in fact.

Usually February is a snow-free month in the valley, but snowfall arrived at Kamiah at the average rate of an inch a day. It looked and felt like it was still January.

Kamiah’s previous snowfall record for the month of February was 19 inches, set back in 1949. Only one other year did snowfall exceed 15 inches, and that was in 1933 with 18 inches for the month. This year, the valley was dusted with 28 inches of flakes, according to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration.

The disparity was even greater on the prairie. Nezperce’s previous February record for snowfall was set in 1966 with 23.5 inches. This year they went for broke — and three snow days at school — with 42.8 inches.

Despite the record monthly total, snowfall for this winter in the valley has been ho-hum. Kamiah had no snow in October and November, a mere 3 inches in December, and 2 more inches in January, for a winter total of 33 inches. Kamiah’s 2016-17 winter saw 51 inches of snow, second only to the 52.2” mark set in 1915-16.

With a bone-dry January and a record-setting February, what does that bode for March? Stay tuned.

— Ben Jorgensen, The Clearwater Progress (Kamiah), Thursday

Rock slide blocks Tucannon Road

COLUMBIA COUNTY — It should have been quitting time, but a 5:10 p.m. call to dispatch reporting a rock slide Monday evening sent the Columbia County road crew back to work.

The slide occurred at milepost 10 on Tucannon Road, according to Columbia County Operations Supervisor Wayne Tate.

“There were three to four very large, car-size rocks directly in the road and another dozen half that size,” Tate said.

No one was passing through at the time and the road crew was able to use a grader outfitted with a plow to shove the rocks off to the side of the road. Once the weather clears, they will return to pick them up and repair the divots left in the road, Tate said.

Tate attributed the fall to the freeze-thaw cycle. He said this is only the second time he recalls the road being blocked in the last 20 years but acknowledged that it is always a possibility.

“It’s dependent on the weather. Moisture gets in cracks in the rocks, freezes, expands and knocks them loose. There’s nothing that can be done about it. It’s on private land and there are ledges and cliffs all along that area,” he said.

— Dena Martin, The Time (Waitsburg), Thursday

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