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Snowmaggedon '17 officially ends
February 14, 2017
By Mike Weland

The state of emergency declared by Boundary County Commissioners a week earlier was quietly and gratefully allowed to expire Monday, and while the work made necessary by the heavy drop of February snow has by no means ended, the pace has slowed to a more tolerable level much less frenetic.

Life in Boundary County is returning to normal; neighbors who took it upon themselves to let the little things on their own places slide so as to tackle the big things that threatened neighbors are able to once again turn their attention to their own tasks; people from miles away who raced in to lend a hand are going home, grateful they could help and knowing, if roles reverse, we'll return the favor.

Some call what Boundary County just went through as a challenge, and it was ... but those who have long called this place home see how everything just fell into place as an affirmation of how wonderful this place is ... how this is one of those seemingly rare places anymore that still know that it's not the disaster that defines us, but how we pull together and respond.

"Love thy neighbor" could have been written here.

As a result of the declaration, 20 young men came into the community, prisoners who are serving time in Idaho State Prison in Orofino. While they were here, though, few if any local residents noticed their bright orange coats.

They boarded transportation today for the trip back south, back to finish paying their debts to society. It's not likely they left Boundary County unchanged.

While their work was limited to helping out on official government buildings only, not a person who saw their bright jackets questioned their hard work, especially those who worked most closely with them.

"It was my great pleasure to feed the crew of 20 inmates and two staff from Orofino for the past six days ... even though it's been a lot of hard work," said Alison Ashworth-Henslee, the driving force behind Far North Deli. "I'll admit I was a little sad to take them their last "Mom" dinner tonight."

She didn't have to do it, but like we all did, she did it anyway, BBQ chicken, baked beans, potato salad, rolls and hot chocolate chip cookies.

In Boundary County the step from "above" to "above and beyond" is often too small to notice.

"Usually, I just said 'hi' and asked them how they're doing," Alison said. "But tonight I stopped and had a few words with them. Told them thank you from all of us for their hard work and how very much we appreciated all of their help. Told them we hoped they only come for snow and not in the summer (they're a firefighting crew also!) They were kind and thoughtful and most appreciative of my cooking ... I'm hoping the taste of good Mom food will help them make better choices when they're back on our side of life."

Laroy Dowd grew up in Bonners Ferry, but he's a successful man now living with his family in Rathdrum. When he heard of friends back home needing help, he launched, on the spur of the moment, the Unbury Bonners Ferry Work Party, set to meet Saturday morning and work all day.

He was disappointed ... only about 10 people showed up ... but they worked hard and helped dig out eight households.

"Thank the Lord," one lady said after the snow was off her roof and on the ground.

There are many who don't know where the help came from, they are just grateful that it did. Firefighters from every department in Boundary County gave up training to get out and do the very thing they signed on to do. Our churches, none seeking credit, just did what neighbors do.

Around 40 people from Mennonite Christian Disaster Relief, who came from Washington, Canada and southern Idaho, joined more than 40 people from the local church, and together helped nearly 100 people dig out.

We took care of each other. That is what neighbors do.
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