Gonzaga in Cd'A?

COEUR D'ALENE -- Gonzaga University is looking into buying a large piece of land located in Cougar Bay, on the south side of the Spokane River across from North Idaho College.

Gonzaga is playing host to a meeting here on Monday, looking for community and monetary support.

"This should be viewed as an exploratory meeting," says Charles Murphy, vice president for finance at Gonzaga. "We have a lot of priorities for things on our campus right now, so basically we are looking for any people out there who would be interested in becoming donors and partners with us on this deal."

The land in question is 155 acres owned by lifelong Coeur d'Alene resident John C. Pointner. Pointner's real estate agent and representative Alan Golub, says the asking price is $2 million.

"There would be a 20 percent down payment, and the rest of the purchase sum would be on a 10-year note, with 7 percent interest," says Golub. "Pointner is 82, and in case of his passing away within that 10 years, Gonzaga would inherit whatever was left on the note."

Some of the land is marsh, some is under water and some is shoreline property. Pointner has cherished and protected the area during the more than 40 years he has owned it.

"He really feels he's been the steward of the bay for all these yeas," says Golub. Gonzaga would be required to name the area the John C. Pointner Wildlife Center. It would be open to the public.

Murphy says the area would likely be kept as a wildlife research area for the university's classes and faculty. "I guess some type of research facility could be built there," he adds. "But for now, we are just looking for partners. We were approached by Mr. Golub, but we don't have the funds to acquire the area on our own. Obviously there is a substantial element of gift on Mr. Pointner's behalf that we certainly don't want to ignore."

Still drying out

SPOKANE -- The Washington State Department of Ecology is closely monitoring drought conditions as the first days of summer approach.

Last week was the first time the entire Columbia River rose to above its minimum flow since April, but it's expected to fall below flow requirements by the end of this week.

"The low water levels at this early date could lead to some extremely dry weather conditions over summer," says Ecology's drought coordinator Doug McChesney. "We're on the downward slide of the peak stream flows for this year. Without significant storms, we're stuck with some very low flows."

Ecology has already committed approximately $1 million to the Bonneville Power Administration to help provide more water for fish and farmers who depend on the Columbia River. Another $1 million has gone to the U.S. Bureau of Reclamation to allow farmers in the Yakima Valley access to emergency wells.

Residents in Eastern Washington may also be faced with an increase in air pollution from dust and smoke from potential wildfires. "This could be the calm before the dust storm," says McChesney.

Northwest Winterfest @ Spokane County Fair & Expo Center

Fridays, 5-8 p.m., Saturdays, 4-8 p.m. and Sundays, 3-6 p.m. Continues through Jan. 1
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