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L-R:  Bill McClintock (Rotary); Steve Boorman (City); Kevin Callos (Rotary); Edd Byler (TrussTek); Jeff Brubaker (Pro-X); Kay Burdick (Accurate Collision); Austin Sommers (Concrete Forms & Finishing); Norv Skrivseth (Caribou Creek Log Homes); Elton Anderson (BF Redi Mix); Dave Bylar (Caribou Creek Log Homes); Loren Sommers (Concrete Forms & Finishing); Pete Schaeffer & Amber Dowell (Fleet Graphics); Adam Michel (North Idaho Iron Works); Dave Walter (Rotary); Tyler Sommers (Concerte Forms & Finishing).  Absent: George Shutes (ITD). 

What do ten organizations in this community have in common? Why did they come together to voluntarily prepare, assemble and erect a sign that welcomes you to Bonners Ferry when you are traveling into the community from the north side? There may have been lots of reasons – arm-twisting, persuasion, “what’s in it for me”, or “we had some extra time”. “Without exception”, according to Dave Walter who was the coordinator on the project, “the ten participants came together to get the job done and when they were asked how Rotary could repay them for their time and effort, all of them said that they expected nothing in return. We are doing this for the community."

The Bonners Ferry Rotary Club decided to undertake a project to build and erect a second “Welcome to Bonners Ferry” sign, this time approaching the community from the north side. It would eventually be located under the city’s power lines and across State Highway 95 from the old Hawkins House.

An Eagle Scout project had earlier erected a “Welcome” sign on the south side of town. A second sign was prepared at that time for the north side but had to be stored pending sighting and a state permit. For more than 15 years, the sign was stored at various locations throughout the county including Accurate Collision and the City of Bonners Ferry. Because of the impending new highway north of town, a plan to situate the sign at the top of the north hill was scrapped. Eventually, Steve Boorman and the city decided to place the sign under the power lines because of the easement it held in that location.

The city applied for a state permit. The process required the sign’s building plans that had been prepared by Caribou Creek but misplaced when the business was sold. Caribou Creek Log Homes drew up new plans and cut the logs required for each side of the sign. Eventually a permit was issued and the city began site preparation. Concrete from BF Redi Mix was poured into forms prepared and finished by Loren Sommers, iron structural supports for the logs on each side of the sign were completed by North Idaho Iron Works, original sign graphics were affixed by Fleet Graphics, the sign’s roof structure trusses were prepared, stored and then delivered to the site by TrussTek, the roof structure was set by the city, and traffic was controlled by the state (ITD) during erection of the sign.  Pro-X provided building supplies not otherwise available from other participants. Other individuals who contributed time and labor were Greg Johnson, Don Jordan, Dave Walter, Steve Howlett, and Ron Sukenik.

Today, all that remains for the project to be completed is the lighting to be performed by the city and the rockwork and landscaping by the state. These two pieces of the puzzle are expected to be performed during the next several weeks.

If you look closely at the sign, there is some wording placed inconspicuously that states, “Just Smile ~ In Memory of Vern Burdick.”  Accurate Collison had earlier provided financial support to the Rotary Sign Project in memory of Vern who is often remembered quoting these simple words when things looked their worst….“Just Smile”.