Thursday, August 28, 2008

08-28-08 -- Want to help Southeast Boise fire victims? There are lots of opportunities


What do you give to a person who has lost everything?

Work gloves, gift cards and restaurant certificates top the list of items needed by victims of Monday’s fire in Southeast Boise.

“Kitchen supplies and food are good ideas, but then you think, they have no kitchen,” said Patti Wagstaff who has been working with families in the Oregon Trail Heights neighborhood.

Wagstaff said men are asking for tools to replace the things lost when their garages went up in smoke.

“They’ve been asking for gloves and shovels to dig through the ash. Trash bags,” Wagstaff said. “Just basic needs.”

Volunteers are needed, but coordination is being handled through the Boise Fire Department’s Burnout Fund. Volunteers who would like to help are asked to call Charlie Ruffing at Fire Station 14 at 590-1437.

“We gave out $500 cash and gift cards to all the families yesterday,” Ruffing said. “And we hope to be able to do that again today.”

Ruffing said community support has been overwhelming.

Acorn Storage in Meridian has donated a storage unit to everyone who suffered damage from the fire.

“This will give us a place to store things until the families have a place to put them,” Ruffing said.

Ruffing said the best way to help is to give gift cards or certificates, especially from home improvement stores and restaurants.

“I know people want to bring food, but we’ve gotten some canned food and these people just have no way to use it,” Ruffing said.

He said disposable food such as granola bars and other sack lunch items that can be consumed at the work sites are good to give.

Most victims are staying in hotels or with friends, Ruffing said.

“The Grove Hotel has been great,” Ruffing said. “They offered lodging for everyone for a week.”

Help has poured in “from the business side to neighbors down the street,” Ruffing said. “I’m used to dealing with one house or at most with a four-plex. To deal with 20 houses is overwhelming”

The things needed most:

• Disposable gloves

• Booties to go over shoes at the worksite

• Toothbrushes and toothpaste

• Toiletry items

• Disposable coveralls

• Gift cards

• Money cards

• Cell phones

• Computer access

• Cash

• Transportation

• Food items

• Pet care

• Medical supplies


There are several efforts under way to help residents impacted by the Oregon Trail Fire. They are:

Red Cross of Greater Idaho Disaster Relief Fund: Money only. Clothing, blankets or other items cannot be accepted. Info: 800-853-2570.

Boise Burn Out Fund: Members of the Boise Firefighters Local 149 will be at Alive After Five from 5-8 p.m. Wednesday, Aug. 27, to raise money for the Burn Out Fund to help victims of the Southeast Boise fire.

Boise State University: Counseling is available by calling 426-1601. Financial donations made on campus will go to the Red Cross of Greater Idaho Disaster Relief Fund

Donation canisters: Student Union information desk, registrar's office on the first floor of the Administration Building and the parking and transportation offices until Sept. 3.

Clothing, blanket and linen collection: Student Union information desk, Administration Building first floor and the parking and transportation offices until Sept. 3. Items will be given to the Boise Burn Out Fund.

Textbook replacement: Students who may have lost their Boise State textbooks due to the fire should call 426-1418.

The Columbia Village Homeowners Association donation site: 10 a.m. Saturday, Columbia Village recreation center, for donations of clothing and household items.

The Grove Hotel, 248 S. Capitol Blvd., is offering complimentary one-week stays for those who lost their homes. Call 333-8000.

Bed, Bath and Beyond: Families who have lost their homes are asked to go to the store at 3615 S. Federal Way between 8 a.m. and noon on Thursday morning to register to have their valuables replaced. The registry will then be available to the public, who can buy the items for families at a 20 percent discount. Info: 344-8886.

Citadel Broadcasting (Magic 93.1): Accepting donations of clothing, money, gift cards and free services for the fire victims at its office at 15th and Bannock streets in Boise.

Riverside Elementary: Raising money and taking donations at 2100 E. Victory Road for teacher Brooke Linville, who lost her home in the fire. Linville, a resource room teacher whose first day at the school was Monday, is 33 weeks pregnant and lost everything, including baby shower gifts.

Sizzler restaurants: Drop off clothing or household items at any Sizzler and get a $5 coupon.

The UPS Store #4172: The UPS Store in the Columbia Village Shopping Center (338-9979) is offering to have all mail, packages, and any courier correspondence for displaced residents delivered directly to the 6568 S. Federal Way store at no charge. This includes regular mail as well as anything donated to them (either dropped off or shipped). For more information, call owner Chris Wyatt at 830-5634.

Idaho Department of Insurance: Personnel are available to answer coverage questions and assist homeowners in contacting insurance companies. The department also has tips for consumers regarding homeowners insurance, including a household inventory form, at For more information, call 334-4250 in Boise, or 800-721-3272 toll free statewide.

Gold’s Gym Treasure Valley: Accepting donations of clothing, cash and gift cards starting Thursday, Aug. 28. Donate at any of the four Treasure Valley locations; each donor will receive a two-week Gym pass: ParkCenter -- 801 E. ParkCenter Blvd.; Downtown Boise (Grove Hotel) -- 245 S. Capitol Blvd.; Cole & Fairview -- 7316 W. Fairview; Meridian -- 1455 Country Terrace Court. Call 389-GOLD.

Buck’s 4x4 Off-road Center: Lunch and dinner is being offered to anyone who makes a donation to benefit the Red Cross which in turn will benefit the families that were affected by the fire. This offer is from 11:30 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. through Friday, Aug. 29. Buck’s 4x4 Off-road Center is at 4500 W Chinden Blvd. in Garden City. For more information, call general manager Steve Dance at 343-2061.

Boise Moose Lodge Spaghetti Feed: Donations of money, food, clothing and school supplies will be accepted from noon to 9 p.m. Saturday at 8931 W. Ardene St.

Jensen Eye Associates: The Nampa business is donating contact lens cases and solution, and they are offering replacement contacts and glasses at their cost. Jensen Eye Associates is at 1615 12th Ave. Road, Suite A, in Nampa. For more information, call Jan Clark at 467-3271.

96.9 The Eagle: The radio station is collecting funds and items for the Boise Burnout Fund. K.O.P.E.G (Keep Our Planet Earth Green) is recycling old cell phones, mp3 players, ink cartridges, etc., and the money will be donated to the Burnout Fund. Items may be dropped off at the radio station 1419 W. Bannock in Downtown Boise from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. weekdays (excluding Labor Day); at any Boise Fire Station; or where ever 96.9 The Eagle may be broadcasting live in the Treasure Valley.

Quality Heating & Cooling: Working with the Boise Fire Department Burnout Fund in creating specific care packages for each of the families. Quality Heating & Cooling is collecting gift cards, clothing, toiletries, school supplies, baby items, etc. and putting them together for the families. They will be collecting through Sept. 2. For more information, call Ashley Van Cleave at 377-3555.

Market Real Estate: Real estate agents from Market Real Estate in Meridian will accept donations for the Boise Fire Department’s Burnout Fund from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 30, at 1857 W. Millennium Way. The event will feature balloon sculpting, a bounce house and cookies from the Idaho Mom’s Network. For more information, call 409-8892.

Utah-Idaho Southern Baptist Disaster Relief: Non-profit, volunteer organization can provide ash and debris removal for those whose homes and contents are considered a total loss from fire damage. For more information, call Kathe Rhodes at 208-756-4216.

Sunday, August 24, 2008

08-24-08 -- Star native known for service, love of roses


On most days, a light breeze barely moves the branches of the giant box elder trees at the Star Cemetery.

The solid headstones below contain names, dates, sometimes poetry. But they provide only a glimpse of the lives of those like Joy Ayres who lie buried beneath the carefully groomed lawn.

The land for the cemetery was donated by Joy's grandparents in 1900, and his grandmother planted and nurtured the box elder trees that once lined the cemetery. Two remain.

Across the cemetery from his grandparent's marker, two small American flags have been pushed into the dirt next to Joy's headstone.

A treble clef and a rose are carved into the granite next to his name and the date of his death - Independence Day, 2008.

Many people attending the Aug. 2 funeral service expected little more than a simple ceremony for a simple man who moved away from home to serve in World War II.

But after taps was played and the flag that draped the casket was given to Waldtraut "Val" Ayres, his wife of 48 years, word began to spread about the man who served his country in three wars.

Joy, known by most people as a gentle man who loved to grow roses and listen to fine music, was born in Star in 1914.

Ayres was a soldier who in 1970 retired at age 56 after 24 years with the Army.

He worked as a medic and later in the finance corps.

Among the ribbons he wore on his uniform was a red ribbon with a single blue stripe, signifying he was decorated by the Army with a Bronze Star for heroic or meritorious action in conflict.

An oak leaf cluster he wore with his medal showed that it was the second time during his service in World War II, the Korean War and Vietnam that he had been decorated with the honor.

An Army Commendation Medal, again with an oak leaf cluster, shows his sustained acts of heroism or meritorious service.

Val said besides his medals and some handwritten journals, she has only limited information about his service.

"He never talked about it," Val said.

The two met and married soon after the end of the Korean War while Joy was stationed in Berlin.

Another assignment took the couple back to America for a short time, but war soon took him to the other side of the world again.

Joy served in Vietnam during the Tet Offensive in 1968 when the North Vietnamese army made a massive surge in an attempt to crush the South Vietnamese army and its allies.

A simple journal entry in his personal papers reads, "3 Jan. '68 "The Year of TET" - 4 Feb. '69, U.S. Army, Pacific (Vietnam).

More medals - including the Vietnam Gallantry Cross given by South Vietnam to soldiers honoring deeds of valor in battle - recognize his service there.

Joy came home from war for the last time in January 1970 and went to work for a library district in Olympia, Wash.

His focus turned to Val, who sang opera as a young woman before the war destroyed Berlin.

"He loved good music. And we attended the opera often," said Val. She chuckled and then said, "I wouldn't have married him if he didn't."

Val also said Joy loved to play the piano. "It was his second hobby," she said.

The two started growing roses and became well known for their work with the Centennial Rose Garden in downtown Olympia.

Joy and his wife raised the money for the garden, which today contains a collection of about 100 varieties of roses.

Although his 93 years took him around the world many times, Joy was returned home to be buried among the dozens of family members representing six generations of Ayres in the Star Cemetery.

David Kennard: 377-6436

In Remembrance is a weekly profile on a Treasure Valley resident who has recently passed away. To recommend a friend or loved one for an In Remembrance, e-mail

Sunday, August 17, 2008

08-07-08 -- FAA will honor veteran pilot for a half-century of safe flying


Don Taylor of Emmett began flying his dad's BT13 when he was 12 years old. That was in 1945.

On Friday, Taylor will receive the FAA's prestigious Wright Brothers Master Pilot Award. He'll be one of only 1,218 pilots who have received the award since its introduction in 2003.

It will be a surprise. He thinks his family is gathering to celebrate his upcoming 75th birthday. (They plan to hide this article and are asking his pals not to give away the secret.)

The award honors pilots for maintaining safe flight operations for 50 or more consecutive years of piloting aircraft.

That's not to say Taylor's never crashed his plane. He has. Plenty of times. But so did Orville and Wilbur Wright.

"The ability to crash is a talent in its own right," said Charlene Taylor, who has been in love with her crop-dusting husband since they were children.

"We've been married for 54 years, and I've never regretted it," she said. She doesn't hold a pilot's license herself but often flies with Taylor.

"The last time he went down he had spray in the hopper and he knew he had to take it down," she said.

The way his wife tells it, Taylor simply said, "OK, let's get this over with."

"He knew (the plane) was going (to flip) over on its back because the field he hit was freshly corrugated," Charlene Taylor said.

"You've probably seen bumper stickers that say 'God is my co-pilot.' Well, Don always said, 'I'm the co-pilot. God's the one flying this plane.' "

Taylor walked away from that crash as he had before.


Taylor retired from crop-dusting at age 73.

"He told me he'd retire when he turned 70. When he tuned 70 he said he'd retire when he was 71. When he finally did quit he said, 'I thought it was time I kept my promise,' " Charlene Taylor said.

Taylor still flies though, but now he does it mostly for fun. He's also a flight instructor and he holds licenses to inspect and certify planes, which he does regularly.

Taylor earned his commercial pilot's license in the 1950s and he got his first crop-dusting job soon after that when a friend saw him doing touch-and-go's and convinced him to join his company.

"He loved it," his wife said. "It suited him well. But it wasn't as fun for me as it was for him."

She said she remembers the pain he went through one year while the family was living in Modesto, Calif., when three close friends - two of them fellow crop-dusters - lost their lives in plane crashes.

"Most people think it was work, and it was. It was very hard work," she said. "But he was blessed to work at something he enjoyed."


Today, Taylor regularly flies his Piper PA14, a plane made in the 1940s. His wife doesn't join him much, though. She prefers the couple's other plane, a Cessna 182 that is more comfortable

"I can get us through the sky." she said. "I can take off, but I've told him I don't think I could land it. But he always tells me, 'You don't need to worry about that. They've never left one up there yet.' "

Charlene Taylor credits her husband's safety record to long hours of practice, and said she remembers last week watching as he practiced landing and taking off near the home.

"He told me he wished it was a little more windy because he needed practice flying in a crosswind," she said.

"He tells all his students you're never too good that you don't have to practice," she said.

David Kennard: 377-6436

Thursday, August 14, 2008

08-14-08 -- Eagle horseman killed in motorcycle crash


A well-known member of the equestrian community died Wednesday when a car hit his motorcycle head-on on Idaho 44 west of Eagle.

Jared Higginson, 53, of Eagle was a manager of Flynn's Saddle Shop on State Street in Boise for many years.

Family friend Lynn Hightower said Jared was known as a dedicated husband and father of four, ages 5, 7, 11 and 17.

"This is just a shock to anyone who knew him," Hightower said. "He was absolutely a dedicated father who tried to be a huge part of his children's life."

Hightower normally talks to the news media in her role as the Boise Police Department's spokeswoman. But on Wednesday, she spoke for herself and others who knew Higginson well.

Higginson was an active part of the Chickasaw Choctaw 4-H Club, of which his 11-year-old daughter was a member. Club members begin competition at the Western Idaho Fair Thursday, Aug. 14.

"This is tough," said Hightower, who also has a daughter in the club. "But you know, I think they are just going to pull it together and support the family as they show throughout the fair."

Higginson was well regarded as the authority on Western tack and reining in the Valley.

"There are a lot of horses around here that are a lot better off because horse owners trusted him," Hightower said.

Higginson, a lifelong resident of Eagle, also was active in his LDS ward, Hightower said.

According to the Ada County sheriff's office, Higginson, who was wearing a helmet, was on his way to work when the driver of a 1995 Oldsmobile Cutlass veered from a westbound lane across three lanes of traffic into the path of Higginson's 1990 Triumph.

Investigators don't yet know what caused the driver to cross into oncoming traffic.

The driver of the car was taken to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center with non-life-threatening injuries.

No charges have been filed, and officials said the name of the driver, a Garden City man believed to be in his 60s, will be released only if charges are filed.

David Kennard: 377-6436

Saturday, August 9, 2008

08-09-08 -- Wind, lightning heat up Idaho's fire season



Are structures threatened? No, most of the fires are burning in remote areas. Firefighters have extinguished or otherwise protected nearby buildings.

Are campgrounds open? Yes. No evacuations have been ordered.

Is this a good fire year? The fire season began later this year because of high moisture content in forest vegetation. Over the past five years, an average of 45,000 were already burned in the Boise National Forest by Aug. 1st. This year, just 24 acres had been.


The Rattlesnake fire was burning 1,000 acres in the Nez Perce National Forest about 30 miles west of Darby, Mont. The fire is zero percent contained.

The Cabin Creek fire was burning 5,494 acres in the Payette National Forest about 35 miles west of Cobalt. The fire is zero percent contained.

The Rush Creek fire was burning 1,435 acres six miles southwest of Taylor Ranch.


Cascade Ranger District, (208) 382-7400

Emmett Ranger District, (208) 365-7000

Idaho City Ranger District, (208) 392-6681

Lowman Ranger District, (208) 259-3361

Mountain Home Ranger District, (208) 587-7961

25 small blazes are reported after overnight storms. Check for updates before visiting forests

Fire danger is high in the Boise and Payette national forests, and visitors should check where fires are before heading out.

Fire managers sent small teams of three and four firefighters to 25 new fires Friday morning as numerous lightning strikes ignited dry grass and timber from Idaho City to Atlanta.

The number of fires reported from overnight thunderstorms grew to 25 in the Boise National Forest on Friday.

Lightning late Thursday night and Friday ignited 11 new fires on the Payette National Forest, all less than an acre in size, officials said.

But fire experts said it could be worse.

This time last year, nearly 200,000 acres of Boise National Forest were in flames. As of Aug. 1 this year, just 24 acres had burned. And most of the fires ignited by the most recent storm were less than an acre.

Both ground vegetation and trees have higher moisture content this year, and that has helped push the fire season later, Olsen said.

He also said rain from passing storms has kept fires small enough to give crews time to get to the scene.

The most recent fires were scattered across the Idaho City and Mountain Home ranger districts. Firefighters were on the scene of one fire near Atlanta Thursday night.

Olson said fires are staffed based on their threat to people and property, but at least three of the new fires were in remote locations where fire managers are considering allowing them to burn to help maintain forest health.

But hikers, fishermen and other adventure seekers should be cautious this month.

"August is a critical fire month, and the forest has 40 percent of its fires in that month," Olson said. "The public is encouraged to be careful with campfires and other flammable material during this high fire-frequency month."

Backcountry travelers are advised to check in with local ranger districts for updated fire status and conditions.

David Kennard: 377-6436