by Pia K. Hansen

Scouting for a New Place -- SPOKANE -- The local Girl Scouts are proving that they are always prepared for a challenge as they take on not just the renovation of an old building, but also a $2.5 million fund-raising campaign.

The Girl Scouts Inland Empire Council (GSIEC) plans to turn the 21,600-square-foot building in West Central that used to house the Maple Street Press and the Nickel Nik newspaper into a program center complete with a gym, a computer lab, arts and crafts studios and a Girl Scout hostel with room for 50 guests.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation has given the Girl Scouts a $250,000 challenge grant, but there's still a ways to go.

"We got $50,000 up front of that grant, and that's what has allowed us to move our offices over here," says Lindy Cater, executive director of GSIEC. "We will get the rest once we've raised the $1.3 million that's left to raise. The total fundraising will be $2.5 million."

And not a dime of that comes from cookie sales. "The cookie sale money goes solely to local Girl Scout program delivery," says Cater.

The GSIEC has sold its old offices on 14th and Grand, and the hostel located next door is for sale as well. Currently, the Girl Scouts have no dedicated program space except the camp on Lake Coeur d'Alene.

"My goal is to have funds raised by next spring, then do the renovation and then have the grand opening in October 2005," says Cater. "That's the plan. It's all contingent on the money coming in on time."

Celebrating All Latinos -- COEUR d'ALENE -- North Idaho College is celebrating Cinco de Mayo in a slightly different way this Friday, April 30, when the Day of the Children -- "El Dia de los Ninos" -- takes over campus.

The evening features a full program of salsa, merengue and cumbia dancing as well as Mexican folk dancing by Arco Iris Ballet Folklorico, food, arts, crafts and of course pinatas.

"In 2003, Idaho became the first state in the nation to have an official Children's Day by passing a bill that names April 30 as El Dia de los Ninos," says Sharla Chittick Trainor, NIC diversity event committee chair. "This is a celebration in Mexico that has a significant cultural and historical influence on Latino people."

Chittick Trainor says the celebration of Cinco de Mayo itself holds very little cultural or historical significance to most Latinos.

"By introducing El Dia de los Ninos at NIC, we celebrate a Latino tradition and educate about Latino culture at the same time," says Chittick Trainor. "The plus is that there is something for all ages and it is a great family event."

NIC's El Dia de los Ninos celebration is on Friday, April 30, from 6-11 pm in the Edminster Student Union Building. Free. Call (208) 769-3397.

El D & iacute;a de los Ni & ntilde;os para celebrar con m & uacute;sica latina, danzas folcl & oacute;ricas de M & eacute;xico y Peru, nachos y bebidas, y artesan & iacute;as y pi & ntilde;atas para los ni & ntilde;os. Cu & aacute;ndo: el 30 de abril, de las 6:00 de la tarde hasta las 11:00 de la noche. D & oacute;nde: en el Edminster Student Union Building a North Idaho College en Coeur d'Alene, Idaho C & oacute;mo: Todo gratis y para toda la comunidad. Informaci & oacute;n para espa & ntilde;ol (208) 769-3398.

Aquifer Update -- SPOKANE -- The joint study of the Spokane Valley-Rathdrum Aquifer is underway, but it will be a while before data starts showing up. A congressional appropriation of $500,000 got the two-state, three-year project going last fall.

"We think we bit off a lot, so it may be a little longer than three years," says Jani Gilbert, Washington State Department of Ecology spokeswoman. "And we need another $3 million in funding to complete the study."

Scientists from the U.S. Geological Survey and the Idaho Department of Water Resources are working alongside Ecology on the study, which also ties into water-quality issues in the Spokane River.

"We do know that the river and the aquifer exchange water in different places, but we don't know how much or how fast," says Gilbert.

The same goes for the aquifer: Another goal of the study is to find out how fast water circulates through the aquifer, and how much the aquifer varies throughout the year. More than 200 wells will be selected for continual, monthly or seasonal checking.

"Part of the first year's plan is to set up a Web site for people to access," says Gilbert. "Throughout the process, we'll inform the public when we reach milestones in the study."

Publication date: 04/29/04

Witness to Wartime: The Painted Diary of Takuichi Fujii @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

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