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No Place Finer

Stop a minute to think about how great North Idaho really is

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Idaho is my beat. I confess I've made a habit in the past of complaining, whining and even bitching a lot about the state of the state of Idaho.

I frequently express my concern that Idaho is one of six states with no money, time or inclination to offer preschool education to 3- and 4-year-olds.

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I do admit to complaining about Idaho's misguided legislators who would like to take over our federal public lands. And I don't know why Idaho passed up millions of federal dollars in the Medicaid expansion proposal, which would have helped Idaho's medically needy and at the same time boosted our economy.

But bitching is tiring — and tiresome. Here we are, at the start of another beautiful Idaho summer. I'm determined to use the rest of this month's allotted space to share only positive thoughts about my hometown and mostly lovable state.

1 Summer has finally come to Idaho. The Pacific Northwest definitely offers the best summer weather in the country — and arguably, the world. Idaho enjoys cool nights and sweet breezes. Washington and Oregon can also claim cool nights, but the Idaho Panhandle has the best lakes for swimming, paddling, fishing and boating. That's a slightly biased fact.

2 Another positive step: Boise State University released its 2017 Public Survey in which Idaho participants said education is the most important issue facing Idaho today.

Seventy percent of those surveyed want the Idaho State Legislature to address health care issues. Eighty percent favor keeping guaranteed insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. Seventy-six percent believe children should stay on their parents' health insurance until they turn 26 years old. Much-maligned Obamacare is looking better and better. And despite the controversy over science standards for Idaho schools, 72 percent of Idahoans surveyed believe that global climate change is actually happening. That's progress.

3 A positive compromise has been reached on the Ironman triathlon. The full Ironman in Coeur d'Alene is a thing of the past. The half-Ironman will stay, but move to August, when the lake water is warmer for the swimming segment. Trim visitors with their sleek legs and healthy bodies will arrive in August instead of June, so the envy factor roused by all those well-turned bodies on the street will be postponed to a time when it's too late to slim down for summer bathing suits. Also, June and July will be freed up for relaxing on the beach under an umbrella, perusing beach reads. Perfect.

4 Gizmo, the amazing makerspace in Midtown Coeur d'Alene, is at full speed with "Let's Science It" summer camps for kids. Gizmo seeks to build "Creative confidence and curiosity through programs giving access to tools, technologies and mentor."

In a June 3 robotic competition in Spokane, Coeur d'Alene's three Gizmo teams performed well together, and their robots brought them first- and third-place finishes in the Robotics Challenge. Gizmologists and friends are gearing up for the third annual GizMotion, a celebration of creativity scheduled for July 8 in Coeur d'Alene's City Park. Onlookers will see vehicles on wheels of all shapes, sizes, speeds and levels of imagination. That's the future in positive motion.

5 Speaking of wheels in motion, Max Evans, our pedicab entrepreneur, is home for the summer from the University of Montana and again pedaling his Cycle Cab CdA service. Max and partners offer a pleasant ride in a pedicab through the parks and around downtown Coeur d'Alene. Make a reservation by calling Max at 208-358-8733. The cost will be your tip, or a price determined upon making the reservation.

6 A truly good thing is happening at Coeur d'Alene's Art Spirit Gallery, which is partnering with the University of Idaho to develop a new nonprofit organization, the Art Spirit Education Collaboratory. The intent is to continue the business in the spirit of the gallery's founder, Steve Gibbs, and, with the U of I, teach the elements of the business of art. Gallery owner Blair Williams and crew are gearing up for a celebration of the 20th anniversary of Art Spirit, as they meld a for-profit gallery with a new nonprofit mission.

Well, that concludes a positive glance at North Idaho here in June of 2017. The list of good happenings could go on and on. Despite frustrations over lost opportunities and political differences, we live here because the mountains and lakes have captured our souls, the landscape is vast and inviting, and our communities are made up of warm, giving and vital people.

And with the summer sun ahead, we should always look at the bright side of life. ♦