The Honorable Steve Verby

Idaho First District Court Judge

District Court Judge Steve Verby

The Honorable Steve Verby presented a brief overview of his position as judge for the Idaho First Judicial District Court and the rationale he uses to make sentencing decisions.  The First Judicial District is a District Court in Idaho serving Benewah, Bonner, Boundary, Kootenai and Shoshone counties.  Judge Verby received a bachelor’s degree from Macalester College, St. Paul, MN and his J.D. from the University of Idaho Law School.  He has a background of 25 years in law including 10 years as a District Judge in the First District. Steve has also been a member of the Sandpoint Rotary Club for 9 years.

He presented interesting data that indicates that for every healthy adult incarceration, the cost to taxpayers is approximately $25,000. The United States has the largest incarceration rate in the world, the majority of those in prison are under the age of 30, and 90% of felony offenses are substance abuse related, such as methamphetamine.

Steve indicated that the court has four goals in pursuing its work: (1) Protection of Society; (2) Rehabilitation; (3) Retribution (punishment that is declared to be morally right and fully deserved); and (4) Deterrence (the use of punishment as a threat to deter people from offending).  He discussed the tools he uses to find the right balance related to decisions concerning sentencing and cited several cases to illustrate these decisions. 



Pam Hittle

Bee Fit Studio & Certified Zumba Instructor

Pam Hittle

Pam was born and raised in Bonners Ferry and developed a keen interest in fitness, primarily because of her involvement in Jr. Miss.  As a certified Zumba instructor, she has provided exercise classes to the Naples and Middle Schools and in addition to her fitness classes, she gives Zumba lessons in her Bee Fit Studio on McCall Street, located next to Curves in Bonners Ferry.

She discussed some of her activities related to her art. After Pam learned about Zumba and the different musical beats associated with the dance, especially its pop Latin rhythms, she now emphasizes Zumba dancing into her exercise classes.  She has participated in the Sandpoint “Zumba-thon” that raised $1,800 for the ‘Susan G. Komen for the Cure’ and has participated in Zumba exhibitions to benefit other fundraisers such as ALS.  Pam is expected to perform a Zumba-thon at half time at the flag football game on Saturday, June 23 at the high school.

Pam ended her presentation with a Zumba demonstration and invited Savannah, Linda Alt’s granddaughter, one of Pam's students, to join her in the demonstration. A lively end to a wonderful Rotary day!

Steve Benkula

Bonners Ferry Chief of Police

Chief of Police Steve Benkula

Chief Benkula the father of 8 children was recently appointed Bonners Ferry Chief of Police following a fairly lengthy search.  He has 27 years in the law enforcement field in Twin Falls, Idaho including 5 years in narcotics.  Steve cited his involvement in two shooting encounters, a suspect who drew a weapon and was taken down and the second involving a divorce in 2005 in which a male offender survived, but his children did not.

Steve discussed some of his future plans for the Department including a prescription drop-off program, particularly for narcotics and training in accountability and liability among the 7 police officers on staff.  In addition, he addressed the need for ‘less than lethal weaponry’ (police taser), cards left at the doors of businesses and homes related to security, and a citizen’s academy lasting about 4-6 weeks relaying police procedures, report writing, etc.  The Chief also indicated that the department is developing its own website.

A ‘Question and Answer’ period followed with an invitation for Chief Benkula to consider Rotary membership to follow in the footsteps of our former Chief of Police and Rotarian Dave Kramer and his wife Andrea.