Lockwood is the Best Choice for Bonner County

September 30, 2018 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee | Direct Link to Article

Do your homework on county commissioner candidates then vote for the candidate that is right for Bonner County. This should lead you to the same conclusion I reached. Steve Lockwood is the best choice because he will listen to all his constituents, learn their issues and lead Bonner County in the right direction.

Bonner County has world class aeronautics, technology and lumber manufacturing operations so there is no reason to have an unemployment rate of 4.1 percent, which exceeds the state average of 2.9 percent. Lockwood will encourage dialogue between Idaho Department of Labor, educators and industry to see that qualified workers are available for local business to fill job openings. He is also more interested in putting the public back in public service. Serving his constituents versus raising his own salary is the right vision for taxpayers. His opponent claims to have cut $12 million from the county budget amid other taxpayer savings yet our taxes continue to increase at the maximum allowed under state law. I do not understand that math calculus.

Vote Lockwood in.

BOB BOEH

Sagle

Lockwood Kicks Off Election Campaign

September 28, 2018 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee | Direct Link to Article

SANDPOINT — Fiscal responsibility and transparency are among the key parts to his campaign, Bonner County Commission candidate Steve Lockwood said in a press release announcing his general election campaign.

Lockwood said he decided to run for commissioner to bring solid management to county government as well as jobs that pay well, housing for working families, transparency and representation on a number of concerns, including the proposed smelter, Rock Creek mine, and dangerous intersections.

Fiscal responsibility is important, Lockwood said, adding that in the past two years, commissioners have raised their salaries from $68,000 to $78,000, county property taxes have gone up and reserve funds have been spent.

Current commissioners have not tracked departmental expenses monthly and half of purchases over $5,000 are not preapproved, as required, Lockwood said in the press release. Central purchasing accounts for only about 10 percent of purchases. Tax hikes and service cuts result.

The county has reduced hours at some solid waste sites and some may be closed. Others are receiving expensive upgrades. This has led Lockwood to ask whether residents are receiving the best, most cost-effective service.

The Road and Bridge Department reportedly has been cut by about $250,000.

“Will snowplowing suffer this winter?” asks Lockwood.

Lockwood has expressed grave concerns about the proposed smelter just west of Bonner County.

“Protecting the health of our people, the clean air and water that fuel our timber, technology and manufacturing companies is vital,” Lockwood said. “The county needs to be an active player in representing the interests of residents and business.”

The county should also be much more open and transparent, Lockwood said.

“It’s hard to learn when meetings are happening, what is being discussed and why it matters,” he said. “Meetings should be live-streamed, recorded and on the website. This represents a glaring lack of customer service.”

Supporters say that Lockwood will bring honesty and outreach to the commission. He feels that the county, cities, schools, civic and business groups can collaborate to make Bonner County a great place to live, with jobs that pay well and housing for a variety of incomes.

Lockwood touts his experience — business and civic — as qualifying him to serve as commissioner. As operations manager for Oregon at AT&T, Lockwood’s unit delivered top quality services at costs well below the national average. Locally, Lockwood served on the Lake Pend Oreille School Board, Sandpoint Planning and Zoning Commission and Sandpoint City Council. As a school board trustee and city councilman, Lockwood worked with public budgets, public contracts, and difficult issues. As commissioner, Lockwood stands ready to listen to the public respectfully and lead constructively.

Information: online, lockwood4commissioner.com; or on Facebook, twitter, Instagram: lockwood4commissioner; or via phone, 208-590-7745

Ousted Airports Chief Files Lawsuit

SANDPOINT — Bonner County’s ousted airports director contends he was jettisoned from his job after blowing the whistle on the waste of tax dollars within his department.

Jim Kaiser is seeking damages in excess of $10,000 and reinstatement to his position overseeing operations and employees at county airports in Sandpoint and Priest River, according to a wrongful termination suit filed in 1st District Court on Wednesday.

Kaiser’s counsel, Sandpoint attorney Alison Dunbar, said in the suit that her client competently served as airports director for approximately three years. However, Kaiser said he reported Dave Schuck, the airports’ business manager, for claiming work hours which could not be substantiated. Kaiser also expressed concerns that conflicts of interest existed with Schuck’s employment because Schuck is related to county Commissioner Dan McDonald and also worked full-time for an unspecified company which rents space at one of the airports.

Commissioners, the suit said, resolved to terminate Schuck’s position in December 2017 due to job-performance issues and staffing cutbacks. However, McDonald urged the board to delay the firing to prevent awkwardness around the dinner table, the suit said.

“At that meeting Commissioner McDonald remarked that he would prefer to delay Mr. Schuck’s termination as to avoid an uncomfortable situation at his family’s Christmas dinner,” the suit said.

After the holidays, Kaiser reiterated his concerns to commissioners and contends the board confirmed Schuck should be shown the door, which led to Kaiser firing Schuck, according to the suit.

“Mr. Kaiser was then rebuked by the commissioners for terminating Mr. Schuck, and Mr. Schuck was allowed to retain his position,” the suit said.

Kaiser said he continued to press the issue of waste of public resources, but the board and the county Human Resources Department told him to “ignore this problem,” the suit states. Kaiser prepared a package of evidence documenting the waste and Schuck’s conflicts, which was delivered to commissioners in May.

“The following day, Mr. Kaiser was put on leave, and informed he would be terminated on June 2, 2018,” the suit said.

Schuck, meanwhile, was given Kaiser’s position, according to court documents. In addition to damages for wrongful termination, Kaiser argues the county was prohibited from taking an adverse action against him for communicating in good faith the waste of public funds, property or manpower.

Bonner County officials do not comment on pending litigation.

Keith Kinnaird can be reached by email at kkinnaird@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow him on Twitter @KeithDailyBee.

Scoping Comments: Proposed Newport Silicon Metal Smelter

Scoping Comments: Proposed Newport Silicon Metal Smelter

Steve Lockwood, Sandpoint

September 26, 2018

 

I am Steve Lockwood, resident of Sandpoint and Bonner County, Idaho.  My comments relate to the scope of the planned EIS on the PacWest proposed Silicon Metal Smelter proposed for Newport, Washington.

I strongly encourage that all of Bonner County, Idaho be within the scoping area. Before moving forward with the permitting process, a year of actual data needs to be gathered from numerous downwind sites throughout Bonner County. Projections of our air and water quality are not adequate as there are few sensors in place now. Where similar smelters are in place nationally and internationally, data needs to be obtained by Ecology to supplement that provided by PacWest.

Two forms of likely impact come quickly to mind: traffic carrying fuels for the smelter or output from it, and pollution. To elaborate:

Traffic includes both truck and train. Let’s take truck first. Highway 2/200 bisects several Bonner County communities and heavy truck traffic on it will have significant effects. What are the maintenance/expansion and social costs of this traffic for the decade after the smelter begins operations? Benefits? What are the crash/spill hazards? What preparation is needed to respond quickly and effectively? Who pays?

Rail: In the Sandpoint area, it is anticipated less than the needed emergency supplies are on hand for a major train derailment. There is no nearby, year-round boat launch.  What are the costs of bringing these up to par for quick, effective response to a major derailment? Who will pay? Beyond Sandpoint, what are costs of securing a major derailment throughout Bonner County related to the smelter? Who pays?

How many trains would be required to haul the 100,000 odd tons of coal and quartz (each) per year and what route(s) will the trains take? This needs to be taken into consideration in the context of our current level of train traffic (50-60 trains per day through Sandpoint), anticipated increases in rail traffic with the BNSF expansion project (BNSF has not produced any numbers on this yet), and how increased volumes will impact overall quality of life.

Pollution: We hear many estimates of air pollutants to be emitted. For each community in Bonner County, what does that mean? What health risks increase? By how much?  How does this pollution interact with/add to winter air stagnation (with wood smoke) and summer wildfire smoke? We are told that summertime wildfire smoke is the “new normal.” It needs to be fully factored in to pollution calculations.

Visibility is important to our way of life and to our tourism industry. Fine particulates reduce visibility. How much will visibility be reduced, and in what seasons?

What happens when air pollutants settle on plants, soil and water? How is pH affected and what will these changes mean? Will fish or wildlife be affected? Our forestry industry?

Snow pack is important for drinking water, recreation and waterways. How will snowpack be affected? What will those impacts be on fish, drinking water availability and recreation?

Other impacts: What ongoing jobs will be created in Bonner County’s communities? Pay scale and education/experience required to fill them? Which communities?

I have been involved in creating jobs in our area for the last fifteen years. Our ability to attract and keep businesses is impacted by our air quality and roads.

As a candidate for Bonner County commissioner, I hear daily from Bonner County residents concerned that their health will be impacted by degraded air quality, that the county’s recreation, waters, forests and natural beauty will be harmed.

It is important that Bonner County not be negatively impacted by a silicone metal smelter on its border.

Fix 9-1-1 Failures

9-1-1 is extremely important to all county residents. One told me, “Each time I hear that it’s down, I feel exposed to danger.” Delivering the highest quality, dependable 9-1-1 service is paramount for safety in Bonner County. However, County Commissioners are looking for ways to save money on 9-1-1; unexpectedly announcing a plan to put cost-sharing on local entities. Rural residents are asking, how will volunteer fire departments be treated? They have no tax base.

The future of 9-1-1 is regionalization, which will save all entities money and should deliver seamless service across boundaries. When the current commissioners took office in January 2017, they declined the Department Director’s offer to be briefed on 9-1-1 regionalization and other Information Technology issues. What were they thinking? Since then, there have been department head changes, the department was split into two, and commissioners may not realize that the $127,000 grant received by Bonner County for GIS updates has been returned to the state. It might be won again, but there are no guarantees in a competitive grant environment.

Fortunately, GIS mapping is not the hurdle it might be. Kootenai County, Post Falls, CDA and Bonner County have complete GIS systems. Digital maps exist for counties that could be updated or purchased. Alternately, there are sources that provide free street data as a GIS service. These are the maps that GPS systems use so there is mapping available that could be used and improved. With resourcefulness and goal orientation, the GIS underpinnings of regionalization can get moving.

Success requires partnering with the many responders in Bonner County, technical competence, and collaborative, and steady leadership to ensure that 9-1-1 across our county meets future federal standards and reliably gets help to those in need.

Steve Lockwood

Sandpoint

Vote for Lockwood for Commissioner

September 27, 2018 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee | Direct Link to Article

Steve Lockwood has the experience, ability and the right temperament to be an outstanding county commissioner. He has gained valuable experience over many years by serving the community on the Lake Pend Oreille School Board, the Sandpoint City Council, the Sandpoint Planning & Zoning Committee and the Sandpoint Urban Renewal Board — just to name a few. While holding these various positions he not only demonstrated his managerial ability to get the job done, but also his demeanor to work well with the public.

We think his positive, thoughtful analysis of the issues facing the county, and his openness to listen to others gives an indication of how he will conduct himself as a county commissioner when elected. In doing so, we think he would bring a welcomed change to that office. However, he needs your vote on November 6th to make that happen!

CARY and MONA KELLY

Sandpoint

WBCSD Weighs in on Smelter

September 26, 2018 at 5:00 am | By MARY MALONE Staff writer | Bonner County Daily Bee

PRIEST RIVER — While West Bonner County School District trustees said they are not taking a stance for or against the proposed PacWest silicon smelter, board chair Sandy Brower said they felt it would be negligent not to send a letter in consideration of the health and welfare of the students.

The letter, addressed to Grant Pfeifer with the Washington Department of Ecology, came about as the department seeks public input on what people would like to see in the upcoming environmental impact statement.

“We want to go on record that we’ve got a lot of kids here and we want to make sure that they know that we are watching, and we want to make sure they are taking every precaution that all consideration is made to the safety and health of our students,” Brower said.

The board unanimously voted to approve the letter, which was to be signed by Brower on behalf of the trustees.

The district’s meeting last Wednesday coincided with a scoping hearing hosted by the Department of Ecology in Newport, followed by a second hearing in Priest River on Thursday. The purpose of the hearings were to help guide the department on what impacts should be considered when it draws up the EIS, a draft version of which is expected in the summer of 2019.

Comments at the hearings included concerns of potential impacts to air quality, water quality, wildlife, fish, fauna and transportation infrastructure.

In an effort to give Idaho a voice in the matter, during the Newport hearing Idaho Rep. Heather Scott called for the project to be reviewed under the federal National Environmental Policy Act rather than under Washington’s State Environmental Policy Act. During the Priest River hearing, Betty Gardner said she would like to see a study that does “not stop at the borders,” advocating for an environmental review to take into account the Idaho Panhandle.

While the department did receive some of the input they were looking for regarding the EIS, several remarks were made that Newport is not the right place for a smelter.

Idaho resident Christy Huling was one of two people who voiced support for the smelter during the Newport hearing. Good paying jobs are so scarce, she said, that younger workers have no choice but to look for greener pastures outside of Bonner and Pend Oreille counties.

An online scoping hearing is being conducted on Thursday, Sept. 27 for people who were unable to attend last week’s scoping hearings. Visit ecology.wa.gov for information on the webinar.

Keith Kinnaird contributed to this report.

Mary Malone can be reached by email at mmalone@bonnercountydailybee.com and follow her on Twitter @MaryDailyBee.

Dan McDonald is a Rogue Commissioner

It was my honor to serve, for more than three years, as the director of technology for the county under the very capable chairmanship of Cary Kelly. I planned to serve the new board as well when Dan McDonald came on board in January 2017. However, after a few short weeks of working with Dan, I resigned because I observed an arrogant, condescending bully who intimidated the staff and citizens alike. His extremist political agenda coupled with his “my way or the highway” attitude was in stark contrast to the previous commissioners. Now the county staff, my unfortunate former colleagues, work under a blanket of fear fueled by Dan’s intolerance. And they can’t speak up because they will be intimidated or fired.

It is even more disconcerting for me is to observe how Dan co-opted the authority of the other two honorable commissioners. They were not able to express their opinions nor represent their constituents appropriately because of Dan’s domineering and overwhelming desire to control. This is not democracy; it’s autocracy. Bonner County deserves so much better from their commissioners.

As a registered Republican and a fifth-generation Idahoan, I hope my fellow Republicans as well as all independent and Democrat colleagues join me in voting for Steve Lockwood. I know Steve has the administrative, financial, technological and human resource management skills coupled with years of untiring public service. His collaborative and cooperative personality will restore dignity, civility, reason and democracy to Bonner County government. He is “right for Bonner County.”

BILL HARP

Sandpoint

Smelter Hearings Planned

PRIEST RIVER — The Washington Department of Ecology is conducting public hearings this week on PacWest Silicon’s controversial smelter proposal.

One hearing is set for Wednesday, Sept. 19 at Newport High School and another set for Thursday, Sept. 20 at the Priest River Event Center. Both hearings run from 6-9 p.m.

There will also be an online webinar at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 27, according to Washington DOE.

PacWest Silicon plans to build a smelter on more than 180 acres at the Washington-Idaho border to produce up to 73,000 tons of silicon metal each year. The process combines quartz rock, wood chips, coal and charcoal with extremely high temperatures to produce the metal.

The hearings are part of the state’s environmental review in order to prepare an environmental impact statement to evaluate the potential effects of developing a smelter in Newport.

Members of the public are encouraged to submit written comments (sepa.ecology.commentinput.com/?id=p4CsA). The comment period closes on Thursday, Oct. 11, although Citizens Against the Newport Silicon Smelter are requesting an extension on the comment deadline.

Issues Show Lack of Honesty, Integrity

September 16, 2018 at 5:00 am | Bonner County Daily Bee | Direct Link to Article

Commissioner Dan McDonald’s condescending replies to Bonner County residents are offensive and inappropriate for an elected official. I encourage readers to look at his op ed responses (Aug. 30, 23, 12 and more). McDonald states they don’t know what they’re talking about or “you’re twisting the facts.” Really? McDonald said I had my facts wrong regarding Wooded Acres. I got my facts from county employees and records. McDonald supports taking taxpayer money from deserving roads to chip seal a dead-end road (Wooded Acres). Why? Because Wooded Acres residents throw money at him (pay to play). McDonald tells taxpayers he is saving them money. How? Taxpayer money would likely never be spent on Wooded Acres; it does not meet the 300 car count. Is McDonald moving the goal post?

Why won’t McDonald implement a solution that truly addresses the problems caused by wake surf boats as Sheriff Daryl Wheeler requested? Their wakes are destroying the Pend Oreille River shorelines, environment and properties, yet McDonald has done nothing to remedy the problem. Contrary to his op ed on Aug. 28, 2018, the activity of wake surfing can be restricted. All boating activity is not treated equally – see Idaho Code, Title 3, Chapter 3-203 for precedence set with Upper Priest Lake at http://bit.ly/2pa8qI1.

My perspective is that Dan McDonald is part of the problem, not any solution. I support replacing Dan McDonald with someone who represents constituents equally, honestly and does not favor special interest.

RICHARD CRAMER

Sagle