Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Blowin' in the Wind and Voting Yes

Such wind yesterday! 

Twas truly a bad hair day, and my greenhouse didn't do so well either. 

Part of the structure and its contents kept blowing all over the place. I'd pick up the stuff, put it back only to find another panel lying in the grass several feet from the building. 

One time, while standing at the end of my driveway, waiting for a car to pass by, I marveled at the numerous tornado-like swirls of multi-colored leaves floating their way from my yard to the road or even into Taylor's field. 

Kinda like a leaf globe put into perpetual motion!

Through all this wind, however, when my eyes weren't avoiding foreign objects pelting them, even under my sunglasses, I could not stop looking at the sky with big billowly clouds and the landscape, alive with brilliant autumn hues.

I managed to get a few things cleaned up, including a whole lot of red maple leaves.  

That tree has a few diehards clinging to its limbs, but most of this year's crop have hit the ground and have been ground up and hauled off by the lawnmower. 

Lots of work left with the fall/pre-winter preparations, but I did make some headway yesterday, in spite of the big blow. 


This morning, for locals, I'm including a portion of a letter I received overnight from the Panhandle Alliance for Education, which I enthusiastically support. 

I also enthusiastically support the upcoming indefinite term levy.  

Having taught 4,500 students----including many of the present district staff---during my career and having kept in touch with a great percentage of them over the years, I can vouch for the fact that our education system has historically done a remarkable job in preparing young people to face their future. 

I'm very proud to be a product of and a longtime educator for Lake Pend Oreille School District 84, formerly known as Bonner County District 82. 

It seems like a no-brainer that we should ensure that the necessary funds are always there and that there is a sense of long-term stability for those young people yet to go through our education system.  

I think our district provides a healthy variety of opportunities for all types of learners, along with other possibilities for them to leave the system as well-rounded individuals. 

Education should be a mix of academics, vocational opportunities,  extracurriculars, enhanced social skills and opportunities for community involvement. 

Students and the community continuously benefit from the fruits of our public education system. 

Lake Pend Oreille School District continues to do a phenomenal job.  The district, its staff and its students deserve our ongoing support.  

Vote Yes. 

Facts about the levy and voting information can be found in the document below.  

Facts on the Upcoming Indefinite Term Supplemental School Levy

The levy asks for voters to continue funding an already approved levy of $12.7 million per year.

The levy you voted to pass in March is effective from July 1, 2019, until June 30, 2021, at which time it would go back to the citizens for a vote. 

This creates an environment of uncertainty not only for teachers and staff but also for our community because it accounts for 35 percent of the school budget. 

In 2019, the supplemental levy was passed for the 20th consecutive year. (More in a moment on why we have supplemental levies, to begin with.) This success rate allows our school district to bring an Indefinite Term Supplemental Levy to the ballot on November 5.

What does it fund? 

  • More than one-third of the staff – 300 full and part-time positions, providing them with regionally competitive compensation. (Currently, the state funds $38,500 up to $50,000 for the best teachers. We need to supplement that to be competitive.)
  • 300 full and part-time staff positions to keep the size of classes reasonable
  • Offer elective and career technical education courses
  • Small rural schools
  • Academic and athletic extracurricular activities
  • Curriculum and instructional materials
  • Professional development and mentoring for staff
  • Technology and teaching materials

Why are our rural schools always at risk? 
Our school district is somewhat unique in that we are very spread out geographically. But we like our rural schools, and the state formula is set up to fund schools of 700, not 70. The local component of the funding does fund smaller schools and unequivocally keeps them open. 

This is about our local economy, not just our school system.
The school district is the largest employer in the county. For every job the district provides, it supports three other service jobs in the community, such as fire, roads, hospital services, and retail. The economic impact is much more significant than just the teachers and jobs at the school district. 

The “indefinite term” does not equate to a lack of oversight.
All budgeting for public entities is done in a public session. LPOSD submits a budget annually for internal and external audit. All budgets and expenditures, by law, are posted online for public transparency. 

 According to LPOSD CFO Lisa Hals, “We do even more than is required by law. We separate property tax dollars and expenses incurred against those collections. We can show this is the revenue we received, and these are the dollars that were spent.”

Our property taxes are already low as it is.
We live here for the beauty and the lifestyle. Many of us also love it for the low cost of living. Did you know Bonner County is the sixth wealthiest property-assessed school district in the state ($5.9 billion)? Because of that, we enjoy a lower tax rate by half compared to other Idaho taxpayers. 

Generally, a taxpayer pays almost a third of their taxes to support their school district, but in this county, the school component accounts for 20 percent of the average tax bill, the lowest in Idaho. If the levy passes, individual tax bills will not increase. They might even decrease as more parcels come onto the tax roll. 

What if the levy doesn’t pass? 
The supplemental levy will continue to be on the ballot every two years. Our school leadership and staff will take time out of their regular duties to make the case to the public. 

Taxpayers will cover the $15,000 to $30,000 cost of each ballot. Every two years, 35 percent of the school’s budget will be at question.

You can learn more here on how Idaho schools are funded
And here is a primer on why we have levies: 

Note:  Since I copied and pasted from the letter, this video is not accessible.  I'm sure you can visit the Lake Pend Oreille District 84 website to view it.

How and Where to Vote

Marcia Wilson
Executive Director
Panhandle Alliance for Education

Tuesday, October 22, 2019

A Thoreau Day . . . .

On this morning, after a day's worth of rain and after expending a whole lot of energy resulting in futility, I could use some thoughts from one of my favorite writers who, in my later years, has evolved into a mentor. 

So, bear with me.  

Maybe you'll enjoy some Henry David Thoreau thoughts as much as I do.

I have always found his words to be both instructive and inspiring.  

Every creature is better alive than dead, men and moose and pine trees, and he who understands it aright will rather preserve its life than destroy it.


Success usually comes to those who are too busy to be looking for it.

Our life is frittered away by detail... simplify, simplify.


Heaven is under our feet as well as over our heads.


There are a thousand hacking at the branches of evil to one who is striking at the root.


The most I can do for my friend is simply be his friend.

Why should we be in such desperate haste to succeed, and in such desperate enterprises? If a man does not keep pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer.


Live in each season as it passes; breathe the air, drink the drink, taste the fruit, and resign yourself to the influence of the earth.


In my afternoon walk I would fain forget all my morning occupations and my obligations to society.


Nature will bear the closest inspection. She invites us to lay our eye level with her smallest leaf, and take an insect view of its plain.


We are all sculptors and painters, and our material is our own flesh and blood and bones. Any nobleness begins at once to refine a man's features, any meanness or sensuality to imbrute them.


The youth gets together his materials to build a bridge to the moon, or, perchance, a palace or temple on the earth, and, at length, the middle-aged man concludes to build a woodshed with them.


In the long run, men hit only what they aim at. Therefore, they had better aim at something high.


None are so old as those who have outlived enthusiasm.

In my afternoon walk I would fain forget all my morning occupations and my obligations to society.

If a man walks in the woods for love of them half of each day, he is in danger of being regarded as a loafer. But if he spends his days as a speculator, shearing off those woods and making the earth bald before her time, he is deemed an industrious and enterprising citizen.


Never look back unless you are planning to go that way.


Could a greater miracle take place than for us to look through each other's eyes for an instant?


What is the use of a house if you haven't got a tolerable planet to put it on?


There is no more fatal blunderer than he who consumes the greater part of his life getting his living.


Friends... they cherish one another's hopes. They are kind to one another's dreams.


Do what you love. Know your own bone; gnaw at it, bury it, unearth it, and gnaw it still.


We must learn to reawaken and keep ourselves awake, not by mechanical aid, but by an infinite expectation of the dawn.


To affect the quality of the day, that is the highest of arts.


May your day be filled with quality.  

Happy Tuesday

Monday, October 21, 2019

Weekend Wrap

Well, we just had to stop and visit the green giant display on our way back from Walla Walla yesterday. 

Obviously, Food Bank Queen Debbie pays close attention to canned food products, so seeing this aspect of Green Giantville was a special treat for her. 

It's worth reading the fascinating story of the giant and the Dayton food processing plant on one of the photos below.

We did not buy any canned food in Dayton, but we did purchase a few cookies from the bakery at the General Store.  

I ate my giant snickerdoodle first.  

The plan was to take just one bite as we were driving through Lewiston.  The rest would stay in the bag and last me with additional small samples until I arrived home. 

That's what I do while traveling in Ireland, only with scones.  Scones purchased from convenience store bakeries in Ireland may even last me two days. 

Well, that was not the case with my snickerdoodle. It was gone by the time we reached the top of Lewiston hill. 

Later, around Coeur d'Alene, from my back-seat perch I witnessed Debbie breaking off a piece of her snickerdoodle. 

"It's not gonna last," I told her. 

She looked at me and smiled. 

Soon the hand reached in the bag again and soon after that, she gave in, finishing off the cookie.

Those cookies were that good. 

On yesterday's trip, we took a different route and saw more beautiful farmland scenery as we drove through Pomeroy, Clarkston and Lewiston and on home via HWY 95.

The photos below the green-giant story were taken from the car window with my cell phone.  

The last-minute trip to southeast Washington was a success, I decided.  

Different scenery and festive times with family peeps.

Now, life should be coming back to normal with yard work and more apple gathering when it's not raining, along with  some other commitments throughout the week.

Maybe a lot less nibbling on good food too!  My pants zippers tell me so!

As usual, never a dull moment!  

Happy Monday.      

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Celebration in Walla Walla

We passed the jolly green giant in all its glory on a hillside yesterday on our way to Walla Walla.

Turns out the 300-foot tall giant has been on that hillside near Dayton, Wash., for several decades.

It first appeared because of an asparagus plant associated with the Green Giant brand of veggies, which actually had its start in Minnesota.  

Seems hard times hit when the asparagus operation moved to Peru, but the giant remained. 

There's more to the story, but it's Sunday morning, and I'm too lazy to do any more research.  

I just know that we may take a closer look and a picture or two when we pass by on our way home from Walla Walla where we attended a surprise 50th birthday party for my niece last night. 

I decided at almost the last minute to accompany Willie and Debbie to the party.  That decision came after Bill said he would take care of the animals. 

So, we took off about 11 a.m., and, with the exception of a couple of stops drove through rich Washington farm country and unrelenting rain for the next five hours. 

We kept imagining how pretty those fields and hills must be if the sun were shining. Maybe today. 

And, we had a fun time visiting.   

The visiting continued in earnest once a truly surprised Maureen walked through those doors to a ball room at the Marcus Whitman hotel to see a host of family and friends singing the birthday song. 

It was a great  and festive evening with a sumptuous dinner (including the best turkey I've ever tasted) and, of course, a lovely birthday cake. 

Plus, the event provided some family photo ops and some opportunities for guests to just have fun with the camera.  Some photos today by Jacob and one snapped by Kirsten.

The nice part for Maureen?  She doesn't have to feel too old just yet.  In order for her birthday surprise to be successful, the party was held BEFORE her 50th birthday. 

I'm sure there will be more visiting this morning before everyone heads off for their respective homes.

And, I'm also sure we'd all be happy with a lot less rain when we make the trip. 

It's been a fun few days seeing so many family members and doing some catching up on everyone's lives. 

Happy Sunday.