Stories in this Regional News Roundup are excerpted from weekly newspapers from around the region. This is part two, with part one having appeared in Saturday’s Tribune.

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GRANGEVILLE — “I, again, want to reiterate what an excellent job the entire Mountain View staff has done during these challenging times,” Mountain View School District 244 Acting Superintendent Woody Woodford said at the May 18 board meeting. The meeting was call-in for public attendance.

Woodford said the district has so far served 42,761 meals to children in the district, via pick-up locations and weekday bus routes.

“Or about 1,200 meals per day to kids ages 1 to 18,” he said. “That’s filling a lot of hungry bellies.”

Woodford, as reported last week, went on to say he had struggled with how to bring up the next portion of his report.

He stated that ads placed in local newspapers (by trustee Casey Smith, of Clearwater) had incorrect financial claims.

“I’ve asked myself, ‘What can I do to help put forth the correct information?’ ” he said.

He discussed the parts of Smith’s claims he said are false information, which included levy amounts and money proposed for or spent on certain projects.

“I did not ask for a $4.5 million levy,” Woodford said. “I recommended a two-year levy of $3.5 million a year to offer stability to the district.” Ultimately, it was a board decision, he said, and the board decided the patrons would be more likely to support a one-year levy.

“You don’t know where that $4 million figure came from? What do you mean? You brought that to us,” Smith retorted.

Business manager Becky Hogg explained a number was given out not as a recommendation, but to demonstrate where the district stood if they were to, right then, ask for what was needed.

“We surveyed parents on what they would like to see for their kids, and the cost of those things were factored in. It was to simply show what it would take to incorporate those wishes, along with everything else,” Hogg explained, saying it was a budget draft.

“Well, it certainly looked like a levy suggestion to me,” Smith said.

“My recollection is that you did recommend a 4-plus-million-dollar levy,” trustee Brad Lutz interjected. “You’re saying you didn’t?”

“I did not,” Woodford stated. “I suggested the two-year levy, and the board had a very healthy discussion, deciding on a one-year, $3.9 million levy, and I support that decision.”

Chairwoman Rebecca Warden said every year during budget planning, the board starts with a higher number than what they settle on.

“We start with, ‘In a perfect world, if we had everything we needed and wanted,’ and go from there,” she said. “The first budget draft is just a starting point for conversation.”

Woodford also addressed Smith’s ad stating $38,000 was spent on remodeling the district office.

“That amount was actually $11,420,” Woodford said, and included renovations and repairing a portion of rotting foundation in one corner of the building.

“The project was approved last year, before I was hired, and included some carpet and painting, as well as additional flooring that was purchased second-hand,” he explained.

A number of other points were clarified by Woodford, including the amount of carryover and Secure Rural School funds; the cost of a phone system and district vehicles; how many teachers the state pays for within the district; and a project that had been given an estimate but had not yet been approved or started,

“My question is, how do we go on from here, because once that misinformation is out there, it’s hard to reel back in,” he said.

“What you’ve said is very deceptive,” Smith said. “You twisted what I said. I never said we spent — but that it was budgeted. And what a lying ad that was that came out from the levy committee — whoever that is.”

During the discussion, Warden asked Smith to refrain from name calling and told him putting people down was not acceptable.

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

Simplot donates 24,000 pounds of frozen food

MCCALL — Dan Krahn spent two hours in the back of a semitruck in the McCall-Donnelly High School parking lot May 21, hauling donated boxes of frozen food from the trailer and giving them out to anyone who showed up.

Over the course of four days last week, Krahn helped distribute 22 pallets of frozen food weighing more than 24,000 pounds that was donated by the J.R. Simplot Co.

“I had watched the news story three weeks ago where a gentleman hauled 43,000 pounds of spuds that weren’t going to get used,” said Krahn, owner of Krahn’s Home Furnishings in McCall.

That idea prompted Krahn to contact his friend, Bill Whitacre, the former CEO of Simplot.

“We got together and Simplot put together this whole package,” Krahn said.

The plan snowballed from there, leading to the company donating a literal truckload of food.

“Dan Krahn let us know that there was a need at the food bank in McCall and our leadership team worked quickly to come up with a way for us to support the effort,” Simplot spokesman Josh Jordan said.

“We know this is a difficult time for many people and we wanted to help in the best way we know — with a food donation,” Jordan said.

“We have a long and deep history in McCall and the surrounding Valley County communities dating back to J.R. Simplot and continuing today,” he said.

At first, Krahn was going to travel to the company’s warehouse in Caldwell in the store’s delivery truck. But once the call for donations gained traction at Simplot, the company sent the fully stocked trailer.

However, Krahn made a trip to the Simplot warehouse and picked up 1,300 pounds of fresh potatoes.

The donation of frozen curly fries, potatoes, corn, veggies, hash browns and other foods was first distributed to the McCall-Donnelly School District, food banks, St. Luke’s McCall and churches before it was handed out to anyone who showed up needing supplies.

“We estimated that we provided enough food to feed 400 families for five days, and provided some additional food to the food bank,” Jordan said. “This included close to 1,000 cases of frozen vegetables and 2,000 pounds of potatoes.”

Once the school and food banks were thoroughly supplied with food, news of the giveaway spread by word of mouth. People began to show up in their cars and were given as much as they asked for, no questions asked.

“It turned out to be very helpful to a whole bunch of people,” Krahn said. “That made it very worthwhile.”

— Max Silverson, The Star-News (McCall), Thursday

Graduate tally holds steady for 2020

COLFAX — While graduation ceremonies won’t go as they normally do for this group of Whitman County seniors, the next few weeks will mark the graduation for 329 students.

This year’s Class of 2020 remains the same count as the Class of 2019.

Past senior counts show slight fluctuation, with 339 in 2018, 299 in 2017 and 287 in 2016.

Colfax will graduate 41 seniors, one more than the year before. Colfax will hold a drive-in-style graduation ceremony Saturday at 11 a.m. for students and immediate family only. At the end of the ceremony, the cars will be lined up and escorted by the Whitman County Sheriff’s Office and Washington State Patrol back to Colfax.

Colton will graduate 11 seniors, the same count as last year. Graduation ceremony plans are still in the works.

Garfield-Palouse will graduate 16 seniors, two less than 2019. If regulations allow, Gar-Pal plans to hold its graduation June 27 at 10 a.m. for students and immediate family only. The graduation is planned to be livestreamed for the community to enjoy.

LaCrosse will graduate five seniors, the same count as last year. The LaCrosse School District has submitted a proposal for a June 27 graduation ceremony. The proposal must be approved before any plans can be moved forward or announced.

Oakesdale, with the same count as the year before, will graduate 11 seniors. A planned graduation is set for Saturday, but details are still in the works for what type of ceremony will take place.

Pullman brings the largest graduating class in the county with 203 students, five less than the year before. In a drive-in format, Pullman High School will hold its graduation June 12 at the University of Idaho to have adequate space for the drive-in graduation.

Rosalia is graduating 13 seniors, which is five more than last year. The Rosalia School District is still in the planning stages of this year’s ceremony.

St. John-Endicott raises its graduating class by two, with 21 graduating seniors. Graduation is set for June 7 at 2 p.m. Specific details for the event are still being worked out.

Tekoa will be graduating eight seniors, one less than last year. A graduation ceremony will be held on June 13 at 2 p.m. In an update to parents and students, Tekoa Principal Dan Hutton said if Whitman County is in Phase 3, graduation will be held outside the high school on the lawn. Plans are still to be determined.

— Victoria Fowler, Whitman County Gazette (Colfax), Thursday

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