It took a village to achieve his dream

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I first met Nathan Smalley in October 2017, when I was invited to make welcome remarks for the groundbreaking for Habitat for Humanity of North Idaho’s 42nd house, this one in Post Falls. It was a brisk but sunny autumn morning and Nathan’s excitement to get the dirt turned for construction to start was evident.

He’d been working toward his goal for nearly two years and had overcome several obstacles at that point. As we chatted I realized this was a really good man, definitely deserving of the opportunity. I picked up a pine cone from the building lot that had been cleared of trees and, sticking it in my purse, I told Nathan I’d bring it to him on the day he received the keys for his new home.

Saturday morning, seven months later, I was again invited back to make remarks. I gifted him with an apothecary jar that contained that pine cone. Full circle.

Nathan has taken quite a journey in life, including earning two medals in downhill skiing in the World Winter Special Olympics in Austria. I think being handed the keys to a house that he’d worked so hard to earn with the sweat of his brow is right up there with standing on top of the medal platform.

Also making remarks was Gretta Shay, Nathan’s fifth grade teacher at Borah Elementary. She told fun stories of fifth grade Nathan, now 39, who was non-verbal in his early school days. He’s certainly moved beyond his childhood but the fact that he’s maintained a relationship with his teacher speaks volumes about them both.

The phrase “it takes a village” might seem cliché, but to see Nathan Smalley surrounded by friends and community as he achieved his dream of home ownership was the absolute best way to spend an inspiring Saturday morning.

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Lakes Middle School principal Jeff Bengtson had a piece of local history on display at Tuesday’s Sunrise Rotary Club meeting. The school replaced the circa-1950s gymnasium floor this spring, and with the help of woodshop teacher Butch Lieggi, they’ve created unique keepsakes. They’re selling wood art in the shape of the state of Idaho, in two sizes, to benefit the woodshop program at the school.

Lakes Middle School, on 15th and Montana, was the former Coeur d’Alene High School — with the Class of 1970 the last class to graduate from those hallowed halls when the new high school was built on North Fourth Street. I told Jeff that there would be no shortage of CHS alumni from 1970 and earlier who would enjoy owning a piece of their glory days.

Just go by Lakes Middle School for the next two weeks (until June 22) to choose a large or small piece for $50 or $30. This is the best idea since pieces of the blackboards were salvaged and transformed from the old Coeur d’Alene High School — then Coeur d’Alene Junior High School — on Seventh Street a couple of decades ago. And yes, I have one of those blackboards, too!

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Parade season is upon us, so if you plan to enter any of the area parades now’s the time. Coeur d’Alene’s American Heroes Parade on Wednesday, July 4, info at Coeur d’Alene Chamber 208-664-3194. In Post Falls the annual parade will be on Saturday, July 14 at 10 a.m. Contact the Post Falls Chamber for an entry form, 208-773-5016. Rathdrum Days Parade is Saturday, July 21, 10 a.m. on Main Street. 208-687-2866. Hayden celebrates on July 28 with a 10 a.m. community parade. 208-209-1080.

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’Tis also the season for those who own RVs and travel trailers to put them to use. As an FYI, in both Post Falls and Coeur d’Alene any vehicle, including RVs, can only remain parked on a city street for 24 hours. The bad guys tend to take note when people are loading up getting ready to head out of town, making your home vulnerable to burglaries. If you’re going to be on vacation you can also contact either police department so they can make patrol officers aware that the homeowner is out of town.

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Things to Do highlights: Tonight, Downtown Farmers Market, 4-7 p.m. on Fifth and Sherman Avenue in Coeur d’Alene.

On Friday, Family Day, Fancy Flea Market and Foodie Fest in the Park, noon to 6 p.m. at Coeur d’Alene City Park. 2nd Friday Art Walk in downtown Coeur d’Alene, 5-8 p.m.

On Saturday and Sunday, sixth annual Coeur d’Alene Artists Studio Tour. Visit 32 artists in 14 studios in Coeur d’Alene, Post Falls and Hayden. Tickets at the Coeur d’Alene Chamber and The Art Spirit Gallery.

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Happy birthday today to Wendy English, Don Bradway, Dallas Dixon, DeDe Tondee and Kim Normand. Tomorrow my better half and best friend Bert Thoreson along with John Hough, Brad Corkill, Rick Alden and Susan Lewis are celebrating birthdays. Blowing out the candles on Friday are Stu Cabe, Tammy Rickard, Courtney Everson, Dustin Pilcher, Jaymie Starr, Emma Hoffman, Dave Haugen and Ted Pryor. On Saturday Carla Allert, Dave Corbeill, Greg Washington, Paul Deckon, James Hart, Don Fisher (60!) and Darrell Hull will celebrate. Sunday birthdays belong to Chelsea Hough (30!), Jared Mans, Taylor Gonzales, Lori Kaye Gaboury, Joan Crawford and Shannon Boston. Sunny Monday birthday wishes to Deb Wheeler, Kellie Palm, Eddie Bateman, Sandy Green, Gary Schneidmiller, Colin Evans, Tori Daily, Billy Anderson and Erna Rhinehart. John Imhoff (60!), Nicci Cushman, Vivian Worth and Kamryn Peacock celebrate on Tuesday.

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Kerri Rankin Thoreson is a member of the National Society of Newspaper Columnists and the former publisher of the Post Falls Tribune. Main Street appears every Wednesday in The Press and Kerri can be contacted on Facebook or via email mainstreet@cdapress.com. Follow her on Twitter @kerrithoreson.

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