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In Brief 

by Joel Smith

Boomsday -- SPOKANE -- Tough news for couch potatoes (and local music critics) who wish that Bloomsday and its athletic ilk would quit bothering them. According to a statement released by race boosters, the annual 12K suicide march is a cash cow for the community, and it's still running strong.

A recent study conducted by students at Gonzaga's business school estimates that among the travel, the cheap souvenirs, the hotel overnighters, masochistic night-before burger binges at Dick's, and weekend shows at the Big Easy, Bloomsday runners drop nearly $10 million into the local piggy bank each year.

"We organize Bloomsday to help improve the cardiovascular fitness of the community," says race director Don Kardong, "but it's gratifying to know that the event helps the economic wellness of the community as well."

Take heart, sport-haters. We have a report for you, too. All that March Madness nonsense? According to a Chicago think-tank, the copious time employees across the country spend following their brackets in NCAA office pools will cost American businesses nearly $900 million this year.

It cuts both ways.

Oil on the Tracks -- COUER d'ALENE -- Judging by the splashy, bold-faced way the local media have been covering the oil spills at the train refueling depot in Hauser lately, you'd think that Burlington Northern was a band of Saudi terrorists and the oil was anthrax. But if those headlines are proportionate to the public furor over the issue -- and the e-mails we get daily seem to indicate that's the case -- then it's clear that people are more than just miffed with the train company's bungling.

So be prepared for some bile on Wednesday, when North Idaho College's Students for Progressive Change (SPC) and the Kootenai Environmental Alliance will tag-team to host a public forum called "Protecting the Aquifer: Where Do We Go From Here?" which will focus specifically on issues surrounding the rail depot.

The two groups have invited, among others, representatives from the Kootenai County Commission, the Department of Environmental Quality and Burlington Northern to sit on the forum's panel. According to a press release issued by the environmental groups, however, the rail company's Gus Melonas has already told organizers not to get their hopes up, saying, "BNSF's position is not to enter into this forum as it appears to be based on emotion and not on scientific facts."

The show will begin with presentations by Post Falls Mayor Clay Larkin and former Panhandle Health District Environmental Director Ken Lustig, followed by an opportunity for panelists to present their assessments of the depot issue. Then they'll open the floor.

"This is a good chance for the general public to communicate their concerns and ask questions to their elected officials and the governing agencies," says Barry Rosenberg of the Kootenai Environmental Alliance.

Need we remind the general public to leave their firearms, baseball bats and folding metal chairs at home? This is a public forum, not a wrestling match.

The smack-down will take place in the Coeur d'Alene Room of the Edminster Student Union Building, on the North Idaho College campus, at 7 pm on Wednesday, April 6.

Sticking to Base-ics -- WASHINGTON, D.C. -- According to Rep. Cathy McMorris, staff from her office escorted a delegation from Forward Fairchild to the nation's capital last week to discuss the "vital role that Fairchild Air Force Base plays in both the local economy and national defense."

The delegation, which included Spokane Mayor Jim West, County Commissioner Phil Harris, regional chamber President Rich Hadley and Journal of Business Publisher Greg Bever, met with Deputy Undersecretary of Defense Philip Grone and reps from the Air Force and Reserve Affairs in two separate meetings.

McMorris says, "These meetings are important because they give us the opportunity to showcase how Fairchild is well positioned to expand the already critical role it plays in our national security efforts." She adds: "We must continue to work together to strengthen and expand the base."

Publication date: 03/31/05
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