Friday, April 25, 2008

April 25, 2008 -- Idaho growers see role for spuds in food crisis

As food prices around the world climb, Idaho's potato growers are hoping a renewed push for their products brings a healthy return. But they're also pushing potatoes as a way to help hungry people abroad who can't afford much else.

In Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, hungry residents burned tires recently and protested in the streets over food prices spiraling out of reach - spiking as much as 45 percent since the end of 2006 and turning staples like beans, corn and rice into closely guarded treasures.

In Cairo, Egypt, the military is baking bread to stave off anger over high food prices and a repressive government.

The skyrocketing cost of food staples, stoked by rising fuel prices, unpredictable weather and demand from India and China, has sparked sometimes violent protests in the Caribbean, Africa and Asia.

The World Bank estimates that food prices have risen by 83 percent in three years.

Meanwhile, growers back in Idaho say they may have a piece of the solution: Idaho's famous potatoes.

"It goes back to the United Nation's declaration of 2008 as the International Year of the Potato," said Frank W. Muir, president and CEO of the Idaho Potato Commission.

The commission is working hard to capitalize on that declaration and provide viable options that will not only provide not only food for the world but put cash in the pockets of Idaho spud growers.

"The potato is the best nutritional return for the buck," said Muir, whose commission is focusing on increasing raw potato exports.

"A medium-sized potato costs only about 12 cents," he said. "But it has about 100 calories, and it's filled with protein, fiber and other nutrients. It's considered a nutrient-dense food."


But a tiny stumbling block stands in the way of getting Idaho spuds to starving people abroad.

It's a microscopic worm found in the dirt in a handful of potato fields, mostly in southeastern Idaho.

The potato cyst nematode, which munches the roots of potato plants, is the reason governments in Mexico and some other developing countries have cited in refusing imports of U.S. raw potatoes.

"If a country can prove they don't already have it in their dirt, they have an effective argument for keeping Idaho potatoes out," Muir said. "And so we try to use science and do testing to improve the market."

He said a stepped-up effort by the U.S. Department of Agriculture in partnership with Idaho potato farmers has helped to identify specific fields with nematodes.

"We can quickly identify the acres with (the nematode) and regulate it," Muir said. "Then we have to work with the national organizations, such as the U.S. Potato Board or the National Potato Council in Washington, D.C., to have a unified voice to help with our exports."


Another barrier to helping feed poor people could be the "Famous Potatoes" brand itself. Idaho, known throughout the world as the producer of quality potatoes, has brought prosperity to spud farmers.

That means Idaho potatoes are bringing premium prices in hotels and restaurants in Hong Kong and Macau, the only places in China that allow them.

"They love our potatoes," Muir said. "And they are willing to pay a premium price for a premium product."

That's good news for spud farmers in Idaho, but it means little to a family in Sri Lanka surviving on rice and beans.

For that reason the Idaho Potato Commission recently launched an outreach campaign to help renew interest in potatoes as a viable crop internationally and infuse money where it will help the most.

Through its Recipe Relief project it will provide money that goes directly to UNICEF, an international charity that provides nutrition, clean water and education to children in more than 150 countries.

"We don't designate how they use the money," Muir said. "We know they'll use it in the best way possible."

In countries where wheat flour and rice are becoming hard to come by, potato flour is growing in popularity.

"We've made some inroads in Asia with potato flour and our frozen products," Muir said.


Even if they don't buy Idaho potatoes, foreign nations are turning to potatoes to help feed themselves.

Potatoes can be grown in almost any climate, require little water, mature in as few as 50 days and can yield more food per acre than wheat or rice, the Reuters news service reported. Peru's leaders are encouraging bakers to use potato flour to make bread as a money-saving alternative to wheat flour.

"China and India are leading the world in developing their potato industry," Muir said. "That's partly because potatoes are easier to cultivate than wheat and rice. And in developing countries growing potatoes can be laborious, but they also have a labor force that can do the work."

Experts say there is no quick fix to the spike in commodity prices because there are so many variables, from strong demand for food from emerging economies like China's to rising oil prices to the diversion of food resources to make biofuels.

Meanwhile, Idaho growers will continue to work9 with agricultural leaders to increase yields, develop food science and tout the benefits of Idaho spuds to the international market.

David Kennard: 377-6436. The New York Times and the Associated Press contributed to this story.

Thursday, April 24, 2008

04-24-08 -- Stashing the Cache: Hidden treasure is waiting for you to find with your GPS

Darin Oswald
Christy Lytle holds a GPS device that put she and her husband, Rob Lytle and their 5-month-old daughter Makayla within about 10 feet of "geocache" location. Rob finds the package under a rock near the Boise River in Eagle. It has a log of names of all the geocachers who have found the treasure before them. They add their own special geocache names to the list: Idtimberwolf, thecute1, and wenona (the baby has already made a few lists). Rob Lytle started geocaching in 2004 and counts 2,428 finds.


With names like Idtimberwolf, Seamonsters in the Mist or Idaho Taters, a group of modern-day treasure hunters is building a sport growing in popularity in the Treasure Valley.

They call themselves geocachers.

"In the last year, it has really taken off," said Rob Lytle of Meridian, aka. Idtimberwolf. He's one of the founding members of the Treasure Valley Geocachers Anonymous, a loose association of local "cachers."

Outfitted with handheld GPS units, sturdy walking shoes and a veiled desire for remaining anonymous, they quietly promote their sport - mostly by word of mouth.

"It started out with three or four of us who would go out and find some caches and then going to have a beer," Lytle said. "After a while we thought it would be fun to invite some others."

That was in 2004. The cachers now gather monthly at local pizza restaurants, hamburger joints or other family friendly locales to share their caching tales and to put faces to the bizarre names that turn up on tiny log books hidden in trees and under rocks all across the Treasure Valley.

Another cacher, Jason Siebenthall, aka Seven Valleys, found a calling with his caching hobby while out wandering the sage brush near Initial Point south of Kuna.

The mini-mountain of lava has several geocaches hidden among its lowlands. Unfortunately they are becoming harder to find among the debris finding its way into the area thanks to litterbugs too cheap to haul their trash to a landfill

"I was out in the area and couldn't believe how much junk is out there. Tires, old appliances," he said. So he called the BLM and organized a "Cache In, Trash Out" event - something cachers are beginning to become known for.

"It's just part of caching," Siebenthall said. "You're out there enjoying nature and you want to make it better."

And you never know what you'll find. Sometimes it's a McDonald's toy, sometimes its a rare coin. And sometimes it's a wife.

Lytle said when he heard about a group of cachers headed to Portland to visit the original geocache he signed on.

"That was the trip I met my wife," he said. "That was kick."

Now the two enjoy their hobby together with their 5-month-old daughter.


Literally hundreds of treasure chests - many containing rare coins from around the world - are hidden throughout the Boise area, but unless you know how to find them, you wouldn't even know they are there.

Some of these caches are disguised as everyday objects on urban street corners, others are buried under rocks or logs along the Greenbelt or in city parks. And all contain a prize for those who enjoy the sport of geocaching.

Geocaching has been around for only eight years, but the number of hidden boxes grows daily. Nearly 100 geocaches have been hidden along the Greenbelt between Lucky Peak Dam and Eagle Island State Park.

Geocachers use handheld receivers that read information broadcast to Earth from orbiting satellites. It's the same technology used in newer cars with mapping systems. A person using a GPS receiver can find their location anyplace on the globe. Better systems are accurate to a few square feet.

They find clues from fellow geocachers and from several Web sites that post latitude and longitude coordinates to thousands of hidden locations on every continent of the planet.

Each cache - usually in the form of a Tupperware bowl, military ammo box or coffee can - is hidden by fellow geocachers. The contents change daily as people visit the sites and trade items.

The game is a sport for the technology age, but embraced by anyone who loves the journey as much as the prize.

Stealth is key, and a loose set of rules governs the game. The treasure, as valuable as it may be is never kept, but is shared and passed along from cache to cache for others to find.

For instance, when a geocache hunter finds a cache he opens the box, signs and dates a log book then trades one treasure for another. Some cache chests are very small and contain only a log sheet with no treasure. These micro caches - usually the size of a 35 mm film canister or smaller - are more difficult to find and are considered more prized.

Other caches are disguised as common things such as large rocks, tree stumps or electrical boxes. There's even one cache in the Foothills disguised as a cow patty.

After a hunter finds a cache they record their find at where cache owners can then watch to see who has discovered their treasures.

David Kennard: 377-6436



If you don't have a GPS unit, you're not totally out of luck. Several geocaches can be done with some keen observation skills.

KUNA CAVE Waypoint: GC10DRE. Since it's underground, you can't use a GPS unit anyway. You'll still need to log onto the Web site to find the clues.

PAYETTE LAKE WEB CAM Waypoint: GCPZV9. To log this cache you'll need a friend with a computer. You'll know you've found the cache when your partner (or anyone else in the world) sees you smiling for the stationary camera. Hint: Practice your phoon.

FOR JONAH Waypoint: GCPR5A. This is one you can use Google Earth to find. Plug in the coordinates to the Google Earth program and watch where it takes you. If you can see it from outer space, you should be able to find it with your naked eye.


Geocache - A container hidden for others to find using a global positioning system (GPS) unit. Also called a cache - pronounced cash.

Geocoin - A specially minted coin containing a unique serial number that can be tracked online as it travels from cache to cache.

Waypoint - A named coordinate representing points on the surface of the Earth. When a cache is planted it is assigned a waypoint, also called a GC Code.

Travelbug - Like a geocoin a travelbug is an item - usually some kind of toy or object with special meaning to the owner - that has a dog tag with a trackable serial number attached.

TFTH - Thanks For The Hunt

FTF - First to find. Many cachers race to be the first to find a newly placed geocache. Many have e-mail or cell phone alerts sent to them when a new cache is placed.

Hitchhiker - A geocoin or travelbug (see above) or any other trackable item. Many have a specific mission, such as a goal to travel to all seven continents, or to race another hitchhiker to a specific location.

Spoiler - Information or clue about a cache posted online that ruins the caching experience of another cacher. Similar to telling your buddy how a movie ends.



Here are some locations every Boisean should know about. To know if you're right, you can decode the clue that follows the coordinates.

W 116 12.880 N 43 36.135 (Gur Qrcbg)

W 116 11.750 N 43 36.090 (Oebapb Fgnqvhz)

W 116 12.342 N 43 35.850 (Ovt Whqqf)

Decryption Key



(letter above equals below, and vice versa)


Creation: The sport, only eight years old, began in 2000 when a Portland man placed a bucket by the side of a road and posted its latitude and longitude coordinates on the Internet. Incidentally, the bucket was destroyed by a road crew lawn mower. It has since been replaced with a plaque designating the birthplace of geocaching. You can find the first cache at Waypoint GCGV0P.

In Idaho: There are 21 remaining Idaho caches placed during the sport's first year. A good place to find information about them is at Waypoint GC1A9J1.

Growing numbers: At last count, there were nearly 6,000 geocaches hidden in Idaho - at least 1,000 of those are within 15 minutes of Downtown Boise; 1,000 more are within an hour of the city center.

The Rainbow Bridge incident: Once in a while geocachers get a little too creative. This was the case of Scot Tintsman of Meridian who found himself answering some tough questions about a container he placed under Rainbow Bridge on Idaho 55 north of Smiths Ferry in 2006. A state bridge-inspection crew found the container and alerted officials, who proceeded to close the highway for seven hours.

Wednesday, April 23, 2008

April 23, 2008 -- Growers hope tactics saved much of Valley fruit crop

Cherry and apricot orchards suffered the greatest damage when temperatures plunged into the 20s Sunday and Monday nights, but Southwest Idaho commercial growers are optimistic that they'll still have a crop this year.

The cold kept local growers up at night operating wind machines and running water to their orchards to keep the budding fruit from freezing.

"Right now we're in full bloom," Gary Garrett of Garrett Ranches near Homedale said. "We're just kind of hopeful we have something to work with."

The low Monday night was 23 degrees in Homedale, according to the National Weather Service. That kind of extreme can be fatal to Treasure Valley tree fruit, much of which is blooming.

Garrett has 220 acres of apples, cherries, plums, peaches and apricots.

"It looks like we're in pretty good shape, but the hardest hit was the apricots," Garrett said Tuesday. "I've got about 15 acres of apricots. The peaches look like they will be OK, though."

He said the soft fruits - apricots, cherries, plums, peaches - suffered the most damage from the subfreezing temperatures. He expects as much as 75 percent loss in his 15 acres of cherries.

His apples fared best. "Our apples were hit, but it's not a wipeout," he said.

Garrett said when the mercury started dropping Sunday night he began running water to the trees to bring the temperature up.

"We don't start seeing damage until it gets to 27 degrees," Garrett said.

Nearby, Bob Gonzales at Snake River Fruit Growers said his wind machines and propane heaters helped with his Sunny Slope orchards.

"We saw maybe 10 to 15 percent loss with cherries and apricots," Gonzales said. "The apricots got it the worst."

He said the die-off is about what growers would need to thin anyway.

"So we're still optimistic we'll have a decent crop," he said.

"Last year we got hit in May, and that was worse than this year. We lost 35 percent of our apricots and 50 percent of our cherries."

Weather data forecasts the last probable chance for frost on May 10, according to Valerie Mills, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Boise. After that date, the chance of frost drops significantly. For the next several days, "It'll be continued mild with a front coming through," Mills said. "Forecast lows, though, will stay above freezing. I'm glad to hear the growers didn't get hit too bad."

In 2007, Idaho cherry growers produced 1,500 tons of sweet cherries, almost all of which came from Southwest Idaho, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The agency does not keep data on apricots.

Garrett said it is still a little early to know how bad the last two days of frost were. It will be a month before most growers can say what kind of yields they'll see this year.

"There always seems to be one or two nights every season when we're out with the trees," Garrett said. "Sometimes it's just a day. Sometimes just an hour can kill you."

David Kennard: 377-6436

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

04-15-08 -- Fathers, sons join forces to compete in pinewood derby


With the roar of the crowd, a drag race in miniature is set in motion.

This is pinewood derby season.

Just as spring ushers in the boys of summer, the waning days of winter bring with them the anticipation of a monumental day in young boys' lives.

The pinewood derby race is a contest designed to bring together sons with their fathers through the creation of small racing cars.

Together they compete for speed and creativity in a program organized by Cub Scouts packs and staged in church gyms and service club lodges across the country.

Drive through most neighborhoods and you'll see the sliver of a shop light shining from beneath a garage door. It's the first clue that inside is a cold cement floor littered with pine shavings, scraps of sandpaper and the stray lids of spray paint cans.

The 7-inch cars all begin the same - as a solid block of pine, four nails and four black molded plastic wheels handed to an 8-year-old boy in an after-school Cub Scout meeting.

The month that follows will see this rough hewn wood take the shape of whatever vision a boy can scrawl onto a piece of notebook paper.

Some become sleek racers with sharp decals over bright paint. Others go weird. There are hotdogs, cell phones, sharks and anything else that flows from the brain of a kid.

The goal? Travel down a sloped track and cross the finish line first.

Sounds simple right?

Google pinewood derby and find out.

You'll see dozens of manuals on how to build a winning derby car. You'll find tools for honing the axles and shaving the wheels. You can buy a pre-made car, "A proven winner," on E-bay that sells for more than $100.

There are test tracks and timers, lead weights, spin-balanced wheels, friction reducing paint, and what once was the secret weapon of only dads in the know: graphite.

Graphite is a powdered lubricant normally sold in key shops and hardware stores to keep moving parts moving.

To a father of an 8-year-old, graphite holds the same magical qualities as duct tape, WD40 or needle-nose pliers.

A kid with a squirt of graphic on his wheels is akin to the kid in Little League who shows up with a batting glove. It is the Big Bertha in a dad's golf bag.

It is the powder of the pinewood derby gods, and it turns hunks of wood into lightning.

During the next month, hundreds of boys around the Treasure Valley will gather for a race of the best cars in the area.

All will have won their respective qualifying races, bringing the top three speedsters from each Cub Scout pack to compete.

Most will have scraped knuckles or blisters from rubbing against 60-grit sandpaper for hours. And many will have bandages and paint under their fingernails.

A few will walk away with polished plastic trophies recognizing their creations.

All will walk away with a small wooden car with nails four axles and black molded wheels that they made with a few hand tools under a fluorescent shop light in a cold garage with their dad.

David Kennard, Idaho Statesman online/breaking news writer, is a Meridian father of three sons. His youngest will race in his final pinewood derby race this spring. Contact him at or 377-6436.

Saturday, April 12, 2008

April 12, 2008 -- School honors graduate, fallen soldier

BY DAVID KENNARD, The Idaho Statesman

Borah High School grad and fallen soldier Sgt. Michael Lilly received an emotional salute from
his fellow Borah High Lions Friday.

The student body filled the bleachers inside the school's new gymnasium to hear a tribute to the
23-year-old soldier killed in action Monday while fighting anti-American forces in Sadr City
outside Baghdad, Iraq.

"We lost one of our own," said Mike Johnson, former Boise Airport police chief and a Borah
graduate. "He walked the same halls, ate in the same cafeteria, sat in the same classrooms. He
was a Borah Lion."

Family members of Lilly sat quietly among the 600-plus spirited students gathered for the
school's annual Senator's Choice awards.

Prior to the event, the cavernous gymnasium buzzed with highschoolers as floor-to-ceiling
speakers thundered out chest-pounding music in preparation for the awards.

But as an honor guard from the school's ROTC class made its way to the darkened stage,
followed by a marching bagpipe and drum band, the crowd instantly quieted.

Images of the procession bathed in spotlights as it wound its way through the crowd were
broadcast on a giant screen overhead. Later, the screen showed images of Lilly in uniform and as
a Borah High senior during a tribute to the other soldiers from Borah High who have died at war.

Johnson said Lilly's name would be added to the granite plaque honoring the six other Lions who
gave their lives in military service.

"This is the new greatest generation," Johnson said, referring to the Tom Brokaw book honoring
World War II veterans. "They answered the call after America was attacked."

Lilly, a sergeant assigned to 1st Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, died Monday trying to
secure an area used by enemy forces to launch rocket attacks into a military base in Baghdad.

Those rocket attacks took the life of another Treasure Valley soldier, Maj. Stuart A. Wolfer of
Emmett, on Sunday.

Johnson said he was proud of Lilly and he urged his fellow Lions to honor Lilly from the Class
of 2002 as an American hero.

"Lilly had the heart of a lion," Johnson said. "Tonight, the Lion sleeps."

Thursday, April 10, 2008

April 10, 2008 -- 23-year-old Boise sergeant killed in Iraq

A patriotic Boise man who grew up wanting to serve his country was the second Valley soldier to die in Iraq this week, and the 32nd Idahoan to be killed since the war on terrorism began.

Sgt. Michael T. Lilly signed up for four years of Army service on Sept. 11, 2002, one year after the terrorist attacks on the World Trade Center and the Pentagon.

The Borah High School graduate carried his patriotism to the battlefield, quickly advancing in rank through his first tour in the Army, an Idaho National Guard release said.

On Monday, well into his second enlistment and wearing the stripes of sergeant, the 23-year-old was killed in battle in Sadr City, northeast of Baghdad.

Lilly's job was to help gain control of a section of Sadr City used to launch attacks into the Green Zone - where Stuart Wolfer of Emmett was killed just a day before.

Lilly and the others in the 1st Squadron, 2nd Stryker Cavalry Regiment, met some of the heaviest fighting in recent weeks.

According to newspaper and wire service reports coming out of Iraq, the soldiers had been working for about two weeks to regain a checkpoint near the edge of a neighborhood.

Iraqi troops have been unable to hold the location in their battle with Shiite militia fighters, military sources said.

"Michael knew he had an important job to do," his mother said in a prepared statement. "And he did it."

The family has asked not to be named or contacted by the media, but in the statement, his mother said they were proud of their son.


Lilly is survived by his wife, mother and father, all of whom reside in the Boise area, as well as two brothers and a sister and numerous other relatives and friends.

"He knew what he was doing was important, and there was never any question in his mind that serving in the Army was what he needed to do," his mother said. "His whole life, he wanted to serve our country. He was a good son, a loving husband, a good friend and a patriotic person. That's why he joined the Army."


Lilly had been decorated several times for his service, including with the Combat Infantryman Badge, according to the Idaho National Guard.

"The badge is a rifle above his left pocket. A soldier like Lilly who has been in combat will have a wreath around the badge," said Lt. Col. Tim Marsano of the Idaho National Guard in Boise. "It gets a great deal of respect among Army members."

"Michael loved Idaho, loved the United States and loved the Army," Lilly's father said in the statement. "He was on his second enlistment and he told me he was going to re-enlist a third time.

"He felt so strongly about his career in the Army that he was willing to put that above everything else. With Michael, it was Army and country first."

In addition to providing condolences to the family, The Idaho National Guard is providing casualty assistance.

"Sgt. Michael T. Lilly was a patriot who answered the call to duty and served with honor," Marsano said.

David Kennard: 377-6436

Statesman wire services contributed to this report.

Wednesday, April 9, 2008

April 9, 2008 -- Major killed in Iraq was committed to others

By David Kennard, The Idaho Statesman

An hour before Sunday's rocket attack on the Green Zone in Baghdad, Iraq, Maj. Stuart A. Wolfer sent an e-mail back to his manager in the states.

Wolfer, a Boise trial lawyer known as "Stu," was "150 percent committed, 150 percent engaged and always looking for ways to improve any process or procedure that he felt needed to be changed," Allan Milloy of Thomson West wrote in a company e-mail.

The attack took the life of two soldiers involved in Operation Iraqi Freedom, according to a Department of Defense announcement Tuesday.

Wolfer, 36, was assigned to the 11th Battalion, 104th Division, Boise, and served as a logistics officer at Phoenix Base in Baghdad.

The other soldier was Col. Stephen K. Scott, 54, of New Market, Ala.

"They died April 6 in Baghdad of wounds suffered when insurgents attacked their unit with indirect fire," a Defense statement said.

News of Wolfer's death spread by e-mail literally around the world, sent by friends, co-workers and those who remember him as the father who dropped his daughters off at school by saying, "I love you, beautiful."

The Wolfers have three daughters: Lillian Wade, 5; Melissa Lacey-Marie, 3; and Isadora Ruth, 1.

"He was a very loving and amazing father," Lee Anne, his wife, said in a written statement. "He called his children beautiful because he said they looked like their mother. He held his family foremost in his life. Stuart was an amazing man and will continue to live on in the hearts of those he touched forever."

According to news reports, Wolfer was in the gym at Phoenix Base inside a safe zone at the time of the 3:30 p.m. attack. The blast also wounded 17 soldiers, an official said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

"It's a tough day for us," the official said Sunday. "These are our colleagues, our friends."

"Stu forged strong relationships with just about everyone he encountered," said Peter Warwick, president and chief executive officer of Thomson North American Legal, Wolfer's employer.

"Stu was a wonderful person," Warwick told the Idaho Statesman Tuesday.

When he heard the news of Wolfer's death, Warwick sent a message to company employees. In it, he included one of many e-mails Wolfer sent to co-workers:

"The last few weeks have been incredible," Wolfer wrote. "I spent a day visiting the Iraqi Military Academy at Rustamiyah. The flight over started off with me sitting across from a fellow Reuters camera man from Baghdad. We embraced and said hello and then I explained to him that we were on the same team. He let me take a photo with his camera at about 1,000 feet."

It was that kind of expression that created bonds between Wolfer and those he met.

Rosemary Regner of Eagle, an associate, said Wolfer had many friends.

"He was a degreed attorney," Regner said. "I remember ... he received (his first) notice of his call to duty during the Idaho State Bar meeting, and he was very grave about the news. He returned, and we were all very happy to have him back."

Wolfer, who would have turned 37 on April 23, was called up from the Army Reserves for active-duty service with the Army in 2004, and served in Kuwait for a year.

He was called up again and left for Iraq on Dec. 29, 2007.

His military job as a logistics officer was to assist the international forces in their work to return control of the country back to Iraqi citizens.

"In addition to his official duties," Warwick said, "he also was a volunteer with the newly established Boy Scouts International Association in Baghdad, saying, 'If we are going to be turning Iraq over to the citizens, they have to have leaders. You have to develop them, and starting them early with Boy Scouts is one of the ways that we can do this.' "

He began his military service in the Army ROTC program while attending Washington University in St. Louis, Mo.

When he graduated in 1993, he had advanced to the rank of second lieutenant.

He was assigned to an Army unit in Iowa in 1995. That's where he met his wife. They were married in August 2001.

After transferring to the U.S. Army Reserve, he attended and graduated from Loyola Law School in Los Angeles. He later began working for Thomson West Legal in Minneapolis, Minn., as a territory manager for Idaho and Montana.

According to Rabbi Dan Fink of Ahavath Beth Israel, the synagogue in Boise, the family was very active in the congregation.

"He was a stalwart member of the community," Fink said. "He dearly loved his family and stayed in constant touch with them while he was away."

Fink said the family regularly exchanged letters, packages and e-mail.

"The Idaho National Guard offers condolences to the Wolfer family," a statement issued Tuesday by the Department of Defense said. "Maj. Stuart A. Wolfer was a patriot who served with honor, in the finest traditions of a citizen-soldier, when his country called on him."

In addition to his family in Emmett, he has relatives in Iowa, New York and Florida.

Services will take place in Iowa and in Boise at a later date.

David Kennard: 377-6436