Monday, December 31, 2012

City Clerk leaves post after 26 years

It’s mid-December and Susan Weathers sits in her office at Coeur d’Alene City Hall. The walls are bare. Her desk is spotless. Only a loose end or two need wrapping up before 2012 comes to a close.
After more than two decades, Weathers is retiring from her post as city clerk, effective today.
She won’t leave empty handed, though. Memories, friendships and experience from 26 years on the job will go with her.
“The years have gone by in a blink,” she says. “I feel like I’ve had the front row seat in the World Series of Coeur d’Alene.”
Indeed, she has.
Weathers, appointed city clerk in 1987, has served under four mayors. She has seen Coeur d’Alene grow more than 40 percent over the years, watched as it lost its lumber mills and witnessed it emerge as a tourist destination.
“When the mills closed, it was probably the biggest economic impact on our community,” she says. “That’s when we had to reinvent ourselves as a city. That’s when we became a tourist town. “
Weathers was 38 years old when then-Mayor Ray Stone appointed her city clerk. At the time, she was working in the medical field.
“It’s ironic,” she says, with a laugh. “I was tired of the politics of the medical world, and I just thought I needed a change. I went from the frying pan into the fire.”
She knew a little about what she was getting into. Her mother was deputy city clerk in the 60s.
When asked what the biggest changes were during her tenure, she pauses.
“The different mayors,” she says. “You don’t change your job, but your bosses change.”
What she remembers about her first boss, Stone, is his focus on combatting the Aryans, the white supremacist group based in Hayden until about 2000.
After Stone came Al Hassell. During his term, technology at City Hall expanded, Weathers said.
“When I came to work here, we had one old typewriter and one computer for the whole department,” she says. “We had to handwrite every action Council took.”
Steve Judy was elected Mayor in 1997, after Hassell. He, too, served for one term. Weathers remembers it was a challenging time, mostly because of Judy’s administrative hires.
If she ever thought about quitting her job, it was during those years, she said. But she hung on, and things changed when Sandi Bloem took office in 2001, Weathers said. She’ll remember Bloem for her vision for the city.
What didn’t change over the years are many of Weathers’ colleagues and confidants who remain at City Hall today.
“What stands out the most is that both of us grew and matured in our jobs,” said Wastewater Superintendent Sid Fredrickson, who started working for the city just a year before Weathers. “We went from raw apprentices to seasoned veterans.”
Weathers looks back fondly on her years at City Hall and is looking forward to what’s next, though she doesn’t exactly know what that will be.
“I’m pretty open,” she says. “If people need some volunteer work, call me.”

Monday, December 24, 2012

City Hall Closed for New Year’s Holiday – Garbage Pickup Delayed One Day

On Tuesday, January 1, 2013, Coeur d’Alene City Hall will be closed for the New Year’s holiday. Other city offices and facilities will be closed as well. Emergency calls for Police, Fire, and Streets can be made by dialing 9-1-1. Other city facilities have emergency numbers and can be reached if the need arises: Sewer Back-up 769-2241 and Water 755-9729. 

City of Coeur d'Alene garbage pickup will also be delayed by one day.

City Hall and other city facilities will open Wednesday, January 2, 2013 at 8:00 a.m. For more information, please call 769-2300.

Friday, December 21, 2012

ReTool Computer Help Sessions Return in January

ReTool Box -- free computer literacy help sessions – resume this month.
Help sessions are led by volunteers from the Library Foundation and NIC. Sessions are designed for individuals with little or no computer skills who need to begin using computers to apply for work, to begin a job, or simply to communicate with friends and family.
All help sessions are offered in the library Community Room from 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. using the library's portable laptop lab. Up to 19 individuals can participate in each help session.
January sessions are:
Tuesday, Jan. 15: Basic Computer Operations 1
Thursday, Jan. 17: Basic Computer Operations 2
  Thursday, Jan. 24: Internet 101
  Tuesday, Jan. 29: Resumes and Saving Documents
To reserve a computer station call the Foundation at 208-769-2380.
ReTool Box is made possible at the Coeur d'Alene Public Library through grants from the Inland Northwest Community Foundation, the Women's Gift Alliance, the Idaho Community Foundation, and Waste Management of Idaho.

'Moving Books' Series Resumes with Eastwood Film

The New Year brings a new series of “Moving Books,” films based on books, sponsored by the Coeur d’Alene Public Library Foundation.
The screening will be Thursday, Jan. 3, at 7 p.m., on the big screen in the Community Room.
The January film is “Trouble With the Curve,” a 2012 Warner Brothers movie starring Clint Eastwood, Amy Adams, and Justin Timberlake. Directed by Robert Lorenz this PG-13 film is 11 minutes long.
Mark your calendars for Feb. 7 when the “Moving Books” selection will be “Arbitrage” Starring Richard Gere.
A $5 donation is suggested for these films with proceeds going to expand the library’s DVD collection. Free popcorn is provided.

Library Closing Early for Christmas, New Year's Eves

The Coeur d'Alene Public Library will close early -- at 6 p.m. -- on Dec. 24 and will be closed Christmas day. The library will also closed early on Monday, Dec. 31, for New Year's Eve and will closed all day on Jan. 1.

Whenever the library is closed useful online services can still be accessed through the library website including several informational databases. You are also able to access the CIN catalog, place holds, and download e-books and e-audiobooks using the OverDrive system.

For information on using online resources call or visit the library during open hours. Some databases require user names and passwords.

Thursday, December 20, 2012

New kids program starts in January

Parents looking to give their young children a musical experience, this blog is for you.
The city's Recreation Department is hosting Tune Tales Music starting Jan. 11 at City Hall. The program, created in Seattle some 20 years ago, provides a group musical experience through hands-on instruments, finger puppets, creative movements and music theory activities. The five-week program runs Fridays 10:30 a.m. -11:10 a.m. Get a free sneak preview Dec. 28. Call 208-769-2250 for more info.

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

City Council in Brief

From the  Dec. 18 meeting

Council ok’s audit firm
After much discussion, Council voted 5 to 1 to hire accounting firm Magnuson, McHugh & Company to perform audit services for the city. The firm has contracted with the city since 1999, including the years when a former employee embezzled money. Council wanted to know the difference between a forensic audit and the audit performed, why the firm didn’t catch the fraud and why the city should rehire the firm. It also wanted a detailed report of what happened and what’s been done to prevent future fraud. An independent review was also brought up. City Finance Director Troy Tymeson and a representative from the accounting firm addressed the issues and fielded questions. The difference between a forensic audit and the financial statement audit conducted? The audit conducted is required by Idaho state statute and assures financial statements fairly capture the financial picture of a given time period. It does not look at asset theft, which is what city staff uncovered. A forensic audit is a specialized branch of auditing that is sought when there is suspicion of fraud and is not part of regular audits. As for the detailed report and possible independent review, Council agreed to wait until legal proceedings in the case are completed, which is expected to be Feb. 5 when the former employee is sentenced.

LID moves forward
Council authorized city staff to continue its efforts in forming a local improvement district along Front Avenue. It also set a public hearing on the issue for Jan. 2, at which time people will be able to comment on the LID. Any protests must be in written form and submitted at the hearing. The Council will consider those protests and other comments when it votes on whether to adopt the LID on Jan. 15. Improving Front Avenue between Second and Seventh streets is a $2.9 million project that would be partially funded by property owners (39 percent) and by the city (61 percent). Improvements include sidewalks, landscaping, trees, lighting fixtures, roadway and intersections. In approving a resolution to move forward with the process of forming an LID, Council asked city staff to bring back other options that would lower the cost to property owners.

Santa comes to town — today
This year’s visit from Santa starts today, firefighter Eric McAulif told the Council during the presentation portion of the meeting. Beginning this afternoon through Dec. 23, Santa will travel through Coeur d’Alene neighborhoods with members of the Firefighters Local 710. They’ll ride in style in a brightly lit retired fire engine the Local bought from the Fire Department. Santa and firefighters will pass out candy and collect canned food and cash donations for the local food bank. For those who missed St. Nick last year, you’ll be able to track his whereabouts thanks to the new Santa Tracker, McAulif said. Log on to the Fire Department’s website to see Santa’s schedule and his real-time location.

Public hearings
Two legislative public hearings took place. One was on the HUD 2013-2018 Consolidated Plan. The other addressed Wastewater treatment plan improvements and the filing of a petition of judicial confirmation. The hearings came at the end of the meeting and no one offered testimony. These were legislative hearings and did not require Council to take any action. 

Other updates

Council to hear McEuen design update
Dec. 27 is the 90 percent completion workshop at 7:30 a.m. at the Parkview Towers. The Design Committee will update Council on the park’s design. Design for Front Avenue also will be part of the update. The public is invited to attend, however, because this is a workshop, public comment is not allowed.

CDA lieutenant finishes elite training
Lt. Bill McLeod graduated from the FBI National Academy last week, following 10 weeks of training. The Academy is the most prestigious command school in the world. Very few police officers have the opportunity to attend the Academy.

CDA firefighters raise $20K for cause
Coeur d’Alene firefighters raised $21,768 during the annual “Fill the Boot” campaign for muscular dystrophy. That’s double what they raised last year.

City offices closed for the holiday
City Hall and most other city offices and facilities will be closed Dec. 25. Emergency calls for police, fire and streets can be made by dialing 911. Garbage pickup will also be delayed one day. Offices will reopen Dec. 26 at 8 a.m.

City gives to United Way
Between payroll deductions and golf tournament proceeds, the city donated $5,935 to local organizations through United Way.

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Dog Park a go for McEuen

Hey, dogs of Coeur d’Alene. You ready for this? Your playground at McEuen Park is officially on.

That’s right. The Kootenai County Dog Association has raised the $67,000 it will cost to give you the park of your dreams. 

You can thank a long list of generous supporters, including Dale Schuman at Panhandle State Bank’s Trust and Wealth Division, KCDPA Chair Bob Mcdonald and community volunteers Dorothy Hatch, Robert Knetchel, Bonnie Warwick, Terry White, Jon Busath and Karen Olsen. Save an especially enthusiastic wag for the anonymous donor who contributed $35,000 to meet the fundraising goal.

“There are so many people who stepped up to make this dog park a reality,” said Coeur d’Alene Parks Director Doug Eastwood. “They really recognize the value of dogs in people’s lives.”

While the money to install the dog park is in, more will be needed for further enhancements, said Mcdonald, who will continue fundraising efforts.

“There’s still opportunity to contribute,” he said. “We need all the support we can get to provide for the dogs in our community.”

The new dog park at McEuen will be located at the base of Tubbs Hill and measure about a half acre in size — a little smaller than Central Bark at Northshire Park and similar to the dog park at Cherry Hill. 

The fenced playground will feature sections for large and small dogs and a covered canopy area. A decomposed granite surface will prevent muddy paws, a bonus for owners. And for dogs, there will be an obstacle course, water dispensers, landscape boulders, trees and a fire hydrant or two.
“This park will have it all,” Eastwood said. “Dogs will be very happy.”

Sit tight, furry ones. The park won’t open until McEuen does and that’s not expected until next November, unless of course things area ahead of schedule. In that case, the dog park could open earlier.

“The dog park is going to be a wonderful downtown location,” Mcdonald said. “To have a place where dogs can get off their leashes and socialize with other dogs and where owners can socialize, too, is what it’s all about. It’ll be a nice recreational opportunity for best friends of all kinds.”

Want to contribute?
Buy a brass bone to be installed on dog park benches. Bones are $30 and the money raised will go toward upkeep at the park. For information, contact the city Parks Department at (208) 769-2252.