What every small city in America needs

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On Saturday, along with 1,139 other fortunate souls, I enjoyed a most memorable evening in the newly-refurbished Schuler Performing Arts Center on the North Idaho College campus. It seems unlikely that in a venue that size such an intimate experience would be possible. Garrison Keillor and the Coeur d’Alene Symphony were in a most literal sense a gift of music, laughter and nostalgia, wrapped up in a bow of community.

The bow-tier was the indomitable Marlo Faulker, a writer and crusader for the arts and at this moment in time serving as executive director of the Coeur d’Alene Symphony. Earlier this year a chance post on Mr. Keiller’s Facebook page which mentioned his willingness to perform gratis in support of the arts prompted Marlo to inquire. As I write the word “inquire” I’m chuckling out loud. Garrison Keillor of Prairie Home Companion fame didn’t stand a chance against a full tilt pitch from Marlo to choose Coeur d’Alene in fundraising support of our symphony. And the rest is history.

Some in the audience likely had never before heard the symphony perform and I’m sure that new fans were created that night. The combination of Garrison’s legendary narrative and the symphony’s incredible talent in the Young Lutheran’s Guide to the Orchestra proved irresistible. I very much enjoyed watching the musicians react to his humor while playing.

The last part of the evening was pure Garrison Keillor ... musings and poems and even the singing of hymns and anthems with the audience joining voices. It was magical and as unique as a unicorn.

Following the show, Marlo introduced me to the man of the hour, describing me as a columnist and a “good broad.” This tower of a man raised one of those iconic eyebrows, looked at me and asked if I minded that she called me a broad. I laughed and said, “Not at all. Coming from Marlo I consider it high praise.”

He smiled and then asked about my column and talked column inches and story telling and for those brief moments we were simply two wordsmiths who reveled in the opportunity to tell stories of so many interesting people and places.

On Monday he posted on his Facebook page about his experience in Coeur d’Alene, summing it up quite succinctly.

“The woman behind the benefit was Marlo Faulkner who is my age but is a fount of knowledge and a tower of energy. She’s been everywhere and done everything. The benefit was a walk in the park for her. Every small city in America needs a Marlo. And that’s the truth.”

• • •

Six years ago Rob Clark purchased the long vacant former Louisiana Pacific office building on Spokane Street in Post Falls for $10 ... no, that’s not a typo. With the cost of moving the two-story building to a lot Rob owned across the street, the total came to $35,010.

Louisiana Pacific closed in 1995, the last lumber mill next to the Post Falls dam over a century since Frederick Post began logging history right there next to the falls in 1880. Post’s mill was the region’s first commercial sawmill. Logs were transported to Post’s mill via horse, rail and tug boat down the Spokane River.

The building Rob bought was likely built in 1973 when Louisiana Pacific opened lumber manufacturing operations there. For six years he’s pondered what to do with the building that now sits in a prime future city center area that’s steadily developing. As the owner of Bell Tower Funeral Home, Rob considered that business for the site. When he finally decided to transform the building to a restaurant he knew he lacked the experience in the industry to make it succeed so he brought in Wes LeDoux, former general manager of Azteca, as managing partner.

The duo’s Saw Mill Grille celebrates its grand opening tonight, 302 N. Spokane St., and now you know the rest of the story.

• • •

The first day of autumn is Monday but good grief the store shelves have been filled with Halloween and Thanksgiving decor for weeks. For those keeping score, there are 98 days until Christmas.

• • •

Things to Do HIghlights:

Thursday is the Post Falls Senior Center Chili Cook-Off, benefiting its Meals on Wheels program. 5:30-7:30 p.m., 1215 E. Third Ave.

Friday and Saturday - Downtown Coeur d’Alene Oktoberfest, Friday 4-9 p.m., Saturday noon-9 p.m.

Friday, PARK(ing) IT on Sherman, fifth annual Block Party, 14th and Sherman in Coeur d’Alene, 4-9 p.m.

Saturday, RAGS (Rotary Annual Garage Sale, 8 a.m.-noon at Post Falls City Hall parking lot.

Coeur d’Fondo on Saturday, start 7:55 a.m. and cycle around the lake. www.cdagrandfondo.com

Also on Saturday, the Post Falls Historical Society’s annual Spaghetti Dinner at the Kootenai County Fire and Rescue Joe Doellefeld Training Center, 5271 E. Seltice Way. 4-7 p.m.; complete spaghetti dinner, cake walk, live and silent auction and drawings.

On Monday, from 5-10 p.m. the Coeur Group takes over Ponderosa Springs Golf Course for night golf. www.thecoeurgroup.com

• • •

Happy Birthday today to Brad Peugh (50!), Ellen Delavan, Jaimee Cox, Eric Benjamin, John Holm, Jennifer Schroeder and Debra Smart. On 9/19/19 Steve Eller, Rich Kempton, Kara Fredekind, Debbie Sala, Jeanne Wright, Brock Morrow, Marshall Baltzell and Karen Lindbergh do the birthday dance. On Friday Julie Chadderdon, Katherine Ekhoff, John Stevens, Craig Brosenne, Haley Walker, Joe Roope and George Balling put on their party hats. Saturday Stacy Hudson, Dina Hourland, Cliff Slaney and Haley Walker take another trip around the sun. Jerry Lyon, Vic Slater, Amy Reagan, Scott Livingston, Rosalyn Martin, George Beebe and my baby sister, Ronna Park, blow out the candles on Sunday. Celebrating on Monday, the first day of autumn, are Autumn Hanson, Craig Owens, Wendy Young, Patty Kilcup, Stacie McGrath, David Thompson, Sue Enright, Brian Harris, Denise Bechel and Madeline Singleton. On Tuesday Tracey Vaughn, Debbie Michalak, Justin Capaul, Steve Evert, Dorothy Benoit, Carlena Shove and Cathy Schaede unwrap their birthday presents.

• • •

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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