The stone service station is one of six rock dwellings acquired by LaCrosse Community Pride. The group plans to transform the service station into an Ice Age Flood museum and visitors’ center. By Kara McMurray Gazette Reporter It was 13,000 to 18,000 years ago when the most recent historic Ice Age floods swept through areas of Idaho, Washington and Oregon, shaping the landscape and depositing soil and rock in the areas the floods affected. “The Ice Age Floods carved the huge, bare, basalt channels and dry falls, stranded massive boulders far from their bedrock source and deposited gravel bars whose fantastic scale dwarfs their modern counterparts,” according to information on the Ice Age Flood Institute website. Members of LaCrosse Community Pride (LCP) are hoping to bring out this information for local communities and tourists through the formation of an Ice Age Flood Institute chapter in the area and the establishment of an Ice Age museum in LaCrosse. At the LCP community discussion Sept. 30, members Lloyd Stoess of Washtucna and Peggy Bryan of LaCrosse reported on the work of LCP to form the Palouse Falls Chapter and the proposed museum. Stoess has headed up the establishment of a local chapter with the Ice Age Flood Institute. A member of the Cheney-Spokane Chapter for several years, Stoess said he felt it was time for the Palouse region to have a chapter of its own to benefit the local population. “There was really a need in this area to have our own chapter. Different people organize chapters so they can concentrate on their area,” he said. “Our purpose is to help local people learn more about this incredible area we live in.” The Palouse Falls Chapter was officially approved Sept. 18, Stoess said. Stoess said there is a rich history with the floods that have shaped the way of life in eastern Washington. “We want to get the flood story out there; there are so many aspects to it,” he said. “The flood itself determined how we use our land today.” He said if not for the rich soil brought in by the floods thousands of years ago, farming in this area might be completely different. He said educational opportunities will take place through the local chapter meetings, which will be at least four times per year, and at least one field trip or bus tour per year. Stoess said he started a hike from Lyons Ferry to Palouse Falls several years ago. The Cheney-Spokane Chapter eventually adopted it as their yearly tour. “Now that we have got our chapter that may be a joint tour between Cheney-Spokane and Palouse Falls,” said Stoess. Stoess said through the Wheat Lands Communities’ Fair in Ritzville, the Adams County Fair in Othello and the Palouse Empire Fair, about 60 people signed their name to join the chapter. “How many will follow through, I don’t know, but I expect we will have a pretty good body of people,” he commented. Stoess said individuals or families can join the chapter by going to the Ice Age Flood Institute website at www.iafi.org and filling out an application to join a local chapter. He said the Palouse Falls Chapter is not yet listed on the website, but people filling out an application can write in the chapter name. “The easiest way to sign up is to go to the website,” he said. The cost to join a chapter is $40 per year for individuals and $55 per year for families. Stoess said half the dues paid will come back to the chapter for the purpose of putting on events and keeping the chapter running. Plans are also moving forward to convert the LaCrosse rock houses acquired by LCP about a year and a half ago to an Ice Age Floods museum. Bryan reported they are exploring options to put an Ice Age museum in the bigger station. The rock houses acquired include the service station, two houses and three bunk houses. Bryan said the idea for the Ice Age museum was hers. She said she saw the potential for at least one of the houses to be converted to the museum because they are made from basalt stones, the same type of stones the floods deposited in the region. “It is tied together by the stones themselves,” she said. She said she sees the museum benefiting multiple groups. “It would be a great thing for our community, eastern Washington and the Ice Age Institute,” she said. “It benefits everybody.” Bryan said they do not have a timeline. She is currently in the process of applying for a Washington State Historic Preservation grant, and work is being done to clean up the houses. “We would like to (establish the museum) as soon as we have funding,” said Bryan. “We need to secure the building and make sure it is stable.” Bryan said a temporary mobile museum will be formed to start showing the public what a larger museum would offer. “We are working with WSU on plans for that,” she said. “Those should be done this semester.” Bryan said the hope for the temporary museum on wheels is to have it ready by spring or early summer. She said that museum will be more visual rather than having artifacts because of the confined space. She said she sees the museum in LaCrosse and the stone houses being more attractive to tourists once they are fixed up. “The rock houses have always attracted a lot of photographers and continue to attract a lot of photographers and tourists,” she said. “Once it gets going, it is going to really be a boon to our tourism industry.” The plan for the service station includes converting it to the museum and also incorporating a visitor’s center, and Bryan said plans for the additional houses are still in the works. “Our first step is to do a museum,” she said. “We will start with that and build on as there is room and interest.” Other ideas have included a photographers’ retreat, a bed and breakfast or a hunters’ quarters. “We are taking it one step at a time,” said Bryan. “The houses are so unique that people would come just for the experience.”
Colfax City council Monday night approved annexation of 1.59 acres of land behind St. Ignatius, the site of a proposed housing development, on a 4-2 vote. The vote came after the council received a petition from 22 residents of the South Hill area who objected to annexing the property at this time without more information on the type of development which could go on the site. The 1.59 acre site is part of the St. Ignatius property which had been located in the county. The city sought to annex the land to place all the St. Ignatius land inside the city limits and allow the developer a single entity for compliance if and when the project gets underway. The former St. Ignatius Hospital building and the power plant building on East Street have been located in the city limits. The 1.59 acres in the county is located south of the hospital building property. The property is owned by Anthony Girges who has vowed to undertake some type of housing project on the site and pursue some type of future development with the former hospital building. D. John Elliott, who lives in the 1000 block of South Mill, presented the petition with 22 signatures to the city council after speaking in opposition to the annexation. Elliott read a Daily Bulletin account which reported one of the proposals for the property behind the hospital building could be construction of as many as 24 duplex units to meet a need for housing in the city. Elliott said he was concerned that such a project would change what he described as the peace and quiet of the South Hill neighborhood, lead to more traffic congestion and parking problems and impact the rental market. Elliott said he and others wanted to know if plans for the housing addition would involve any federal funding such as a Housing and Urban Development program. Elliott read some of the comments from residents who signed which were listed on the petition. Three of the signers specifically objected to HUD housing. Mike Williams, who lives in the 1300 block of S. East, told the council neighborhood residents were basically wondering what was going on to the site and asked why the city was in a rush to annex the property. Joan Elder-Taylor, who lives on Fairview, added she was concerned about the impact for traffic which could come with a large development on the site. “How are you going to move the people?” she asked. During the council discussion, councilwoman Jeannette Solimine said the project would eventually go through hearings by the planning commission, and the council, under the city's recently passed development ordinance. Councilman Jim Kackman said he believed the 24 duplex proposal would be “a worst case scenario for density” for the 1.59 acre site. Kackman also suggested the city could consider annexing the property as a single residence R-1 zone instead of the proposed R-2 zone which allows multiple housing. It was approved for R-2. Colfax Police Chief Rick McNannay said leaving the property outside of the city would mean city law enforcement, including code enforcement, could not be done by the police department. At the start of the hearing, Bob Hauser of Colfax, who annexed 16 acres to the city for 40 housing lots in Hauser's addition, said he endorsed the project which he believed would bring future growth to the city. Council members Solimine, Kackman, Steve Bretveld and Whitney Aguilar voted in favor of the annexation. Tom Huntwork and Steve Holberg voted against. Councilman Al Vorderbruggen was not present. Elliott after the session said he felt the council disregarded concerns for the residents when they went ahead with the annexation approval. “This was a grass roots effort by local residents with a petition signed by 22 people. We asked only for a postponement of the vote and an explanation of what would be built," he noted. Elliott, who told the council he had discussed the project with Girges, said they didn't oppose investment in the property but didn't think a large concentration of government funded housing was a good fit for Colfax.
By Kara McMurray Gazette Reporter Events on Main owner Kari Rimbey has a few reasons to be thankful – 76 million to be more exact. Hackers unsuccessfully attempted to work their way into the Events on Main credit card machine via Rimbey's merchant number Monday, causing debit and credit cards to not work at the terminal. “It was just an attack on our merchant account,” said Rimbey. The terminal was shut down Monday, and did not get back up and running until Tuesday afternoon, Rimbey said. The hackers attempted to run the merchant number for $20,000 nearly every time cards were swiped ― and subsequently denied ― eventually racking the total up to $76,783,090. They were unsuccessful in capitalizing on the amount. Rimbey said this occurred over a three-day loop, but no card information was stolen from any card used during the period. “It was an attack on my merchant number,” said Rimbey. “There was no compromise in the area.” U.S. Bank informed Rimbey of the hack Monday morning when cards were being denied at her terminal. Rimbey wants the community to know that the attack was not local and card information is safe. “It was not a local hack, just an online hacker trying to break in,” she said. Rimbey added that her account has been re-configured, and the hackers are no longer able to make attempts at the machine. She said she is grateful they were not able to get in, and she is grateful to have not lost anything in the attack or to have fees or fines to pay as a result. “There was no harm done to our account,” she said. “Just attempts to get in several times.”