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Meet three of four library board candidates

April 3, 2023

On May 16, voters in Boundary County will be called upon to decide whether or not to implement a Bonners Ferry Local Option Non-Property Tax and who will fill two seats on the Boundary County Library Board. 9B News sent requests for a write up to each of the four candidates running for the library board; incumbent Aaron B.C. Bohachek and Lewis Clark for a six year term representing trustee zone three and incumbent William "Lee" Colson and Mary-Esther Wilson for a two year term representing trustee zone five.

Wilson and Clark have been endorsed by Adrienne Norris and her  Boundary County Watchman,  and a version of the Wilson's bio first appeared March 31 as a lead story in Mark Mosely's website, boundary.news.

In their own words, here are the Boundary County Library Board candidates:.

Lewis Clark
Lewis Clark
Zone 3 - 6 Years

My family and I moved here to Northern Idaho in the beginning of 2013 after retiring from a police career in Northern California. In 2015, I was sworn in as a reserve Deputy and became a Boundary County Chaplain. Last year, I was nominated as a Vice President of the Boundary County Fire Chief’s Association. Two weeks ago, I was made an Elder at Mt. Hall Community Church where I am a leader in the Youth Group.

I feel the need to run for a position on the library board stems in part from my law enforcement career and especially my time investigating child abuse cases. It also stems from my last 7 to 8 years as a youth leader. I know God charges us and it is our duty to protect our children and frankly, any material that would be illegal under state or federal law should not be knowingly disseminated to a minor by a public library. So, in short, this is why I am putting my hat into this election for the library board.

Aaron B. C. Bohachek
Zone 3 - 6 Years

Born in Ketchikan, Alaska, I moved to Idaho with my family in the early 90s. I am a graduate of Meridian High School and the University of Idaho. My wife, Jessica, a Sandpoint native, and I moved to Bonners Ferry in 2013 and purchased property here. After more than a year working for the Bonners Ferry Herald, my daughter was born.

I decided to take advantage of my experience and connections in the commercial beekeeping industry to fill a local honey producer void and started Selkirk Mountain Honey. This was a side job while raising my young children and as my children have grown, so has the business. I missed the community connection I had when working at the Herald and wanted a way to help serve the community that has done so much to help my family and business grow. With my background in communication, the library board was a good fit for my education and skill set. I have been able to help guide the library through some difficult issues in my first term and look forward to new growth and opportunities in my second term.

Why are you running?
  • My primary concern is keeping the library solvent and functional.
  • I plan to manage the community’s resources in a thoughtful and responsible manner.
  • I will continue to support and bring stability to the hard-working and dedicated employees of the library
  • I will continue to be a good steward of the tax payers’ hard-earned money, using it to benefit our community with access to materials that entertain, inform and educate.
  • I will help the library grow responsibly and continue to keep it accessible to all.

What do you bring to the board?
  • I have six years of experience and knowledge in the position, and am vice chairman of the board of trustees.
  • I have a background in communications with a journalism degree from University of Idaho.
  • Through education and experience, I have a good understanding of constitutional law and Idaho open meeting law.
  • I have a unique perspective as a small business owner in Boundary County and as a father of young children.
  • I have an understanding of the digital and electronic media and the issues that libraries will face in the digital future we are preparing for today.

What have you achieved thus far?
  • When I first came on the board we received the Library Journal’s Best Small Library Award. I wrote a letter to the selection committee touting our library’s amazing ability to operate a traditional books-based library while making space in a small building, on a small budget for guided learning in cutting edge technology like CAD systems, laser CNC and 3D printing.
  • I have been instrumental in helping the library update and refine policy, which, in concert with hiring the director, is the board’s primary role. We have updated the employee policy manual and continue to refine the materials selection policy in a way that takes community concerns seriously when purchasing books for the Boundary County Library. I am also continuing to update the library’s long-term planning documents with the Planning and Vision Committee.
  • I helped and continue to help guide the library through major upheaval. Early in my tenure was the difficulty of navigating the COVID pandemic. We had personnel issues, turnover in the director position and difficulty finding a replacement. Through all of this, we have continued to provide services to the residents of Boundary County thanks to the dedication of our librarians. I would like to think that I have given them some of the support they needed to continue to weather the storms.

What do you hope to accomplish in another term?
  • There is a lot of policy work left to do at the Boundary County Library. The board continues to assemble the array of policies in different formats in order to produce one large policy manual that covers all aspects of the library. For years the library operated on informal or loose arrangements so building these into a structured policy manual is and should be the board’s primary objective in the upcoming years.
  • I’d like to take a frank look at capital improvements. The library could desperately use some sort of lift to move disabled individuals from upstairs to downstairs conveniently. Much of the interior is shabby and dated. There is always a need for more space, especially community meeting and gathering space. I would like to help identify the needs we can meet in the short term, while planning and securing grant funding for long term needs.
  • I will continue to help retain and secure quality staff, while paying them a competitive wage and benefits package that the taxpayers of Boundary County can afford.
  • Whether I’m elected or not, I will continue to celebrate the accomplishments of the Boundary County Library. From storytime busting at the seams to the upcoming summertime Lego Robotics program, my kids and I will be there to enjoy the children’s library and the joy of reading and learning that I discovered in my library as a kid and that they have discovered in the Boundary County Library.

I represent a small group of people in a small area in a sparsely populated part of the country, for no pay or benefits whatsoever, but the job I’m doing is very important culturally and politically. I would be lying if I said the job was fun (though it often is) but the job is rewarding and necessary. I have done my utmost to understand every side of an issue before making a decision, and strive for compromise so that I can get back to the most important part of my mission -- to provide access for the residents of Boundary County to the world of information outside our beautiful valley.

This race will be decided by a few hundred votes, so each vote cast truly makes a difference.

Lee Colson
William "Lee" Colson
Zone 5 - 2 years

My name is William "Lee" Colson. I have been a member of the Bonners Ferry/Boundary County community since 1991. I worked locally at the old Co-Op when it was in town, for Charlie Kramer and Dwayne Day, but mostly for the Forest Service as a firefighter. I retired in 2021 from the Forest Service after 30 years of service as a wildland firefighter.

I served as a volunteer on the City of Bonners Ferry Fire Department from 1996 to present. I served as a Cub Scout Den Leader for Pack 114 from 2007-2011, and as Troop 114 Scout Master from 2011 to 2014. As a Forest Service representative, I was a member of the Boundary County Fire Chief’s Association. As a representative of the City of Bonners Ferry Fire Department, I presented Fire Prevention Programs for Valley View Elementary School second graders yearly since 1998 during Fire Prevention Week. During Forest Education programs at our local schools, I presented the fire ecology lessons from 2009 to 2018.

I married Boundary County resident Julie (Hubbell) Colson in 1991 and we moved to Bonners to start our life together. Our daughter Katie was born in 1996 and her first job was working as a library page at Boundary County Library. Katie is currently finishing her Master’s of Library and Information Science and expects to graduate in May.

My son Will was born in 2000 and is currently working for an engineering company in Pullman, Washington. Both of my children enjoyed years of story time at the library and are passionate readers. My wife recently retired as the librarian at Valley View Elementary School.

Why I am running for the board:
  • To ensure parents and guardians remain the final guide for their children’s access to library materials.
  • To ensure our library continues to provide a safe place to obtain information for all our community members.
  • To maintain our library as a community center, of sorts, where folks can meet, interact, and learn together.
  • To ensure our library continues to provide freedom of choice.

I bring to the board:
  • An ability to work with others and reach a common goal.
  • A willingness to hear and incorporate other’s ideas.
  • I try my best to be reasonable and to see issues from various points of view.
  • I want to defend the right of patrons to make their own choices.

As a board member, I have achieved:
  • Helped to resolve the ICRMP insurance issue by communicating with ICRMP staff and taking library board training.
  • I helped the library staff to remain open during a challenging time with shortened staff and hours. Starting April 3, the library will be open 9-5 Monday-Friday, and 9-2 on Saturdays.
  • With the Zone 2 Board Trustee, and 5 community members, we formed a committee to address public concerns of our Materials Selections Policy. We have met for many months, have completed the policy, and are waiting for board approval.
  • We have hired an interim director for our library and are in the process of hiring a permanent Director.

In the future, as a board member, I hope to achieve and support:
  • The return of our library to its non-controversial place in our community.
  • Reestablishing and reinvigorating long-running programs that our community has come to rely on:
  • Increase opportunities for community members to use the Fab Lab.
  • Increase involvement in Story Time
  • Increase attendance at all our programs such as Science, Chess, Legos (recently awarded a Lego Grant).

We are a community of volunteers: board members, EMT’s, firemen, Scouts, coaches, and many others, and I want to remain a part of that proud tradition.

Mary-Esther Wilson
Mary-Esther Wilson
Zone 5 - 2 years

The last couple of years our library has been fighting to survive. The shutdown in 2020, concerns of books, and operating procedures all caused a rift in the functioning of our “Best Small Library in America.” I am running because I would like to help our library thrive again. Libraries are institutions for obtaining information, ideas and literary enjoyment.

I want to ensure all visitors are able to safely search and check out books that meet their interests; regardless of their age or background. I plan on doing this by supporting what has historically worked for our library.

Our library offers some successful activity-based learning programs. Some of my favorites are the summer and winter reading programs, reading hour, library in a box, the Libby App and of course ... the Fab Lab! Our library has also done an excellent job at being a second home for Boundary county's large home-schooling community.

I plan on continuing and expanding these amazing resources.

My name is Mary-Esther Wilson. I am running for Boundary County Free Library District Zone 5 (Naples) Trustee. My husband and I have five amazing children ranging from five to 27 years old. This last year we were also blessed with our first grandson.

We moved to the area in 2009 and discovered our Boundary County Library. It soon became a favorite hang out spot. It was a comfortable place for us to do our homeschooling lessons while we built our off-grid homestead. I have been a volunteer of the South Boundary Fire Department, Naples Helping Hands and the Treasurer of Boundary Search and Dive. I recently sat on the committee that updated the library's Collections Policy.

Please vote for me on May 16th.

Questions or Comments? Send us an email!

Mike Weland, Publisher

6931 Main St.
P.O. Box 1625
Bonners Ferry, ID 83805
(208) 295-1016

A 9B Media LLC publication
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