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Articles written by John Dowd


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  • Electric bikes gaining popularity

    John Dowd|Apr 7, 2022

    Electric bikes, or e-bikes, are seemingly becoming the companion of the future for recreationists. Though the technology has been around for a while, a new trend has seen modern bikes become more efficient, practical and reliable. These three aspects are extremely important when it comes to relying on something in the outdoors, and so the better reputation is seeing the devices find their way into Sanders County. Recent legislation across the United States has been geared toward addressing the newer, faster and more powerful varieties gaining p...

  • Question of the Week

    John Dowd|Apr 7, 2022

    JUDY RIPKA, Thompson Falls - “Totally a dog person! I was born and raised with dogs; my whole life has been dogs! They call me the dog mom!” BOBBY JO FISHER, Trout Creek - “I love my animals! I have both cats and dogs.” LEON HELSTAD, Trout Creek - “I’m a dog person cause my wife makes me!” JARED WEBLEY, Whitepine - “I prefer dogs over cats because they are a little more interesting than cats. They want to be pet when you want to pet them, cats are kind of the opposite.” BOB REESER, Thompson Falls - “I just like animals of all kinds. I like d...

  • Project ASCENT prepares for 2022 camp season

    John Dowd|Apr 7, 2022

    Project ASCENT is opening camper sign-ups April 1 for statewide application. The nonprofit has been providing free summer camps to Montana youths ages 12 to 17 for the last seven years. The adventure camps provide a chance for exploration to any Montana student who applies and is selected. Depending on the funding available, Project ASCENT hosts five camps and each trip ranges from four to five days, providing up to 50 kids with the opportunity of a lifetime. According to the organization founder, these camps could be crucial to future mental...

  • Paradise sewer accepts agreement amid dispute

    John Dowd|Mar 31, 2022

    The Paradise sewer board voted on Monday to proceed with the newest version of a memorandum of understanding (MOU) defining the roles in a possible agreement to purchase land on which to put the proposed sewer. The decision will allow the board to pursue a buy/sell agreement with landowner Bridger Bischoff to purchase just over six acres of land. However, there is concern over the legitimacy of the vote, according to two of the five board members and the Sanders County Attorney. Issues amongst...

  • Question of the Week

    John Dowd|Mar 31, 2022

    Beau Mccormick, Thompson Falls - “My best prank is putting a video on YouTube of a screen breaking paused on the new TV and letting my parents walk in and see it.” Virgil Holtrop, Thompson Falls - “We were tricked into getting up an hour earlier because someone changed all the clocks in the house, and we didn’t even know about it until we got back home from school. Susan Becktold, Trout Creek - “My husband made a prank call to my brother who was a produce manager and asked for 'John berries,' and my brother’s name is John. He really had...

  • Agents donate funds to local organizations

    John Dowd|Mar 31, 2022

    Since 1993 Clearwater Montana Properties say they have been working to build their communities, and this year donated over $15,000 to local nonprofit groups in Sanders County. 20 different local organizations on the western side of the county, from Heron to Thompson Falls, received donations. According to Administrative Assistant Mandy Krueger with the Noxon Clearwater office, "I like to see the organizations all visit with each other." She spoke of the many organizations that were invited to...

  • Preparing early for ice fishing

    John Dowd|Mar 31, 2022

    One thing I have not done a lot of is ice fishing. As the year warms up, I find myself wanting to learn more about how to be successful next year. Just getting into it, I’m learning that it is like an extreme version of ordinary fishing in the sense that it is either “really on” or “really off.” Either every jig or drop nets you a fish or nothing you can do short of draining the lake and having a look around the bottom on foot can guarantee a fish. As with any fishing, the frustrations can be immense, but the rewards matching. However,...

  • New restaurant opens in Thompson Falls

    John Dowd|Mar 31, 2022

    A new restaurant in Thompson Falls has big plans for the summer. Heather Thompson recently opened The Barrel House and wants to bring to the area an environment befitting its historic name. According to Thompson, barrel houses, or juke joints, were late 19th century and early 20th century establishments started by freed slaves, post emancipation. These places were set on the outskirts of towns where the working class could drink, dance, eat and most importantly listen to music. Thompson...

  • Question of the Week

    John Dowd|Mar 24, 2022

    ALEXANDER HORODYSKI, Plains - “Cleaning up camp sites because of the sewage and all the plastics they leave out.” KENDYL ELIAS, Roseburg, Oregon - “Dusting because it takes forever!” EMMA STILES, Roseburg, Oregon - “My least favorite thing is dusting because it makes me sneeze.” TRAVIS CARNEY, Running Springs, California - “Putting winter things away in the attic every year. You got to get the ladder out, move stuff around and reorganize.” COURTNEY WOODS, Thompson Falls - “I hate picking up leaves and doing yard work because it’s very laborio...

  • Defendant pleads not guilty

    John Dowd|Mar 24, 2022

    A Dixon woman was released on her own recognizance during 20th District Judicial Court on Tuesday. Chazara Swaney pleaded not guilty to felony charges of aggravated assault and false reports to a peace officer. According to charging documents, on January 15 Swaney was at a residence where officers responded to a possible assault. When they arrived, law enforcement found a man badly beaten on the porch. Swaney was identified by witnesses as wearing the same clothes as were seen on the assailant and she was found with blood on her forearms and...

  • Group bonds over button collections

    John Dowd|Mar 24, 2022

    A local button club has formed following a surge of interest in buttons after a display was set up in the Thompson Falls Public Library by Willina Lueb. The club has been operating for almost a year now, and meets monthly. The group has five members, with another possibly joining. "It's been a lovely spreading out of interest in the community," Lueb said. According to members, the group has been very active, especially with March being National Button Month. As was done last year for the same...

  • Council discusses fiber optic project

    John Dowd|Mar 24, 2022

    The Thompson Falls City Council met last week for a public hearing to discuss city zoning related to marijuana sales. The city passed Ordinance 350, which would act like an “emergency zoning ordinance,” as Mayor Mark Sheets put it. The ordinance details where marijuana businesses can sell their product, stating that any such business must be located on the south side of Main Street, among the other major businesses. The ordinance was passed to meet with state requirements which determine the proximity of such businesses from schools and churche...

  • Question of the Week

    John Dowd|Mar 17, 2022

    JEFF SHUTTLE, Thompson Falls - “No, because no matter what it costs, it’s immaterial. I’m going to do what I want to do anyway. It’s just that I’ll have to do without something else.” FIONA WALKER, Thompson Falls - “I’m making fewer trips, and maybe more consolidated trips. Gas is a necessity and I just have to cut back in other ways.” JENNIFER EITELBERG, Plains - “Doing all of our errands at once. So, we’ve gotten four done for the day and this is our last one.” CAROL SEARL, Thompson Falls - “Just combining errands so I’m not driving as muc...

  • Agencies discuss fire suppression

    John Dowd|Mar 17, 2022

    Representatives from several area agencies met with Sanders County Commissioners last week to discuss the process and procedures of fire suppression. The meeting was led by Plains/Thompson Falls District Ranger Dave Wrobleski and Cabinet District Ranger Michael Feiger as well as County Emergency Management Specialist Bill Naegeli. During the meeting last Wednesday, one of the main speakers was Ron Swaney, Fire Suppression Management Officer for the Confederated Salish and Kootenai Tribes. He explained that there are some tribal fire efforts in...

  • Karate kids enjoy local classes

    John Dowd|Mar 17, 2022

    Of the many benefits that come from an active lifestyle, Blue Heron Karate Sensei Jason Williams explains that some of these benefits are especially important for youth. Williams has run three separate karate schools and has taught all ages the martial art for years. "I really enjoy training with adults, but the most reward comes from training with kids," he said. According to Williams, karate teaches numerous qualities including discipline, respect and goal setting. He explained that these can...

  • Elks reintroduce youth program

    John Dowd|Mar 10, 2022

    Clark Fork Valley Elks is set to be the first lodge in the state to reintroduce the Antlers program. A youth community service program, the Antlers actually has very old roots among the Elks host of programs. According to the organizer Denise Taylor, they are about to reach their minimum headcount of five members required to charter a group. The antler program was started in the 1930’s but lost favor post WWII. In the 1960’s the program was officially closed, however, recent interest has brought a resurgence since 2002. Taylor, who is spe...

  • Trout Creek School starts archery program

    John Dowd|Mar 10, 2022

    In an effort to expand their extracurricular activities, Trout Creek School has started a community archery team, run through the school. The team pulls participants from all over the county, and has members from Noxon, Trout Creek, Thompson Falls and Plains. The program is quickly growing and according to Superintendent Preston Wenz, it already has 23 team members. "It's been off to a wonderful start," said Wenz. The team is trying to get more community members and youth involved and...

  • Defendant changes plea in drug case

    John Dowd|Mar 10, 2022

    Jimmy McCracken changed his plea to guilty in the 20th Judicial District Court on Tuesday. He was facing the felony charge of criminal possession of dangerous drugs and the misdemeanor charges of driving while a habitual offender and not having the required motor vehicle insurance. According to charging documents, McCracken was pulled over December 15, 2021, and was found to have drugs in the vehicle, as well as to be operating the vehicle, even though he was prohibited from doing so. During court Tuesday, McCracken admitted to possessing...

  • Question of the Week

    John Dowd|Mar 3, 2022

    JESSICA NELSON, Plains - “My grandmother because she just makes the family complete. Always happy, always has her hair and makeup done, raised a huge family successfully, never heard her complain a day in her life. She just is an amazing woman.” BLAKELY LAKKO, Plains - “My grandma. She takes care of me and she’s always there for me and she’s my best friend.” TERRI BAKER, Plains - “My mom. Basically, she raised six children on her own. My father died when I was young. She’s just always been a really wonderful example to me.” Robert Siperly, T...

  • Students detail love of country in essay contest

    John Dowd|Mar 3, 2022

    "You need to care about your country because it is a free country," said Noxon sixth grader Jasmin Risch when asked about Americanism. Risch was the third-place winner for the 2021-2022 Sanders County portion of the nationwide Elks Americanism Essay Contest for the fifth and sixth grade division. The contest asked participants to write an essay that speaks to a certain patriotic theme. The theme this year was "What does it mean to love your country?" Risch participated last year and plans to ent...

  • Noxon Schools eases restrictions

    John Dowd|Mar 3, 2022

    Two years after the COVID-19 pandemic, Noxon Schools are further loosening their restrictions. As part of the Noxon School District Safe Return to School and Continuity of Services Plan, the Noxon administration and board continue to revise their plan to stay current. The process, two weeks ago, during the regular monthly school board meeting, saw the school drop restrictions even more. The administration advised that the school will only shut down due to an inability to fill staffing positions, among other things. “We’re becoming more per...

  • Question of the Week

    John Dowd|Feb 24, 2022

    SEAN ADAMS, Thompson Falls - “I don’t have a favorite president. I believe all the presidents have had their good points and their bad points throughout the course of history. If anything, I give props to Barack Obama for breaking the color barrier with what this country is going through currently and what it has gone through in the past.” JP DUCOTE, Trout Creek - “George Bush Junior and Senior because of the stability in the economy.” ALICIA MEYERS, Thompson Falls - “President Kennedy, because he was a people’s president.” JOLINE TAPIA, T...

  • TF to use funds for street paving

    John Dowd|Feb 24, 2022

    The City Council of Thompson Falls met earlier this month to appoint and accept a new fire department chief. Nate Saint stepped up to the task, moving up from assistant chief. He was accepted with high regards from council member Shawni Vaught, who has herself been a part of the volunteer fire department for over 20 years. “It’s very hard to find volunteers,” said Vaught. “It’s sad that we lost Neil, but I wish you the best of luck and fully support you.” The city council spoke about some Bridge and Road Safety and Accountability (BARSAA) pr...

  • Woods Journal

    John Dowd|Feb 24, 2022

    While living in Montana, many who travel into the outdoors are often concerned with what they may need to know to survive in the woods. Often the edibility of many plants is something easy to read about. However, identifying the plants that provide other medicinal properties is a hidden art, lost in time to the natives who once lived here. Fortunately, there are several home remedy plants that can help in various circumstances and increase self-reliance. Three sprout in my mind in this area. First, the collection of any wild plant should only b...

  • Question of the Week

    John Dowd|Feb 17, 2022

    RUTH CRABTREE, Plains - “I do. It doesn’t happen to everybody, but I think most people get it even though it might not be the first time. I really feel that if you open your eyes, you will find someone.” GEORGE CRABTREE, Plains - “Yeah, I believe in true love. It’s just natural, as far as I’m concerned. We met on the 26th of December, engaged January 10 and married March 13. We’ve been together for nearly 51 years.” STEPHANIE SAINT, Thompson Falls - “I absolutely believe in true love! I waited long enough, and I found mine, and it has been p...

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