Bob Looper

Bob Looper

November 29, 2020
A civil engineering background and over 25 years in the ski industry make Bob Looper uniquely positioned to manage Brundage Mountain. He first arrived on the Board of Directors in 2009 and became President & Managing Director in 2013. He recently created Brundage Mountain Holdings to acquired the Resort. You’ll shortly hear why it’s called Holdings.
Much like that 9 am lift line, Bob doesn’t waste any time getting to the heart of things. Even though he created the LLC, Bob has other notions about who actually ‘owns’ Brundage Mountain.  

He gets to work with an array of stakeholders, including Adams County officials and the Forest Service, since guess where the mountain is located.  There’s a Master Development Plan, and Bob takes us through the next major projects we can expect to see.

We get a sense of what matters to Bob—a sustainable and exciting future for the mountain, being involved with other community endeavors, and keeping his place as the guy beside you on the chairlift, listening to music on the green, or admiring your tailgate party in the parking lot.

Serhiy Stavynskyy

Serhiy Stavynskyy

October 1, 2020

Born in Ukraine under Soviet rule, Serhiy (Gus) Stavynskyy has a vivid and unusual background. Growing up in an authoritarian and often dangerous country left a deep sensibility for justice. Arriving in America on a green card lottery, Serhiy graduated from Columbia University, served as a New York City Police Officer, and acquired a degree from Valparaiso Law School. Like many of us, he made his way to Idaho to practice law, eventually becoming Chief Deputy Prosecutor in Valley County.

We hear about a life of vastly disparate influences: his family in Russia remembering famine, growing up under communist oppression, earning experience on the rough streets of NYC, serving disadvantaged groups in Boise, and bringing a capacity for handling conflict and difficulty to our own community.

We hear about what it means to be a public servant from someone who sees and respects the distinction and privilege of that role. We hear about a life that has experienced a range of what justice can actually mean. We hear about some unique benefits of serving justice in a community like ours, where someone you’re prosecuting could be a neighbor. And oddly, how that kind of familiarity can make a difference. 

Serhiy closes with a discourse on our rights as Americans, framing them in an elegant way only an immigrant may fully appreciate. 

Craig Utter

Craig Utter

July 15, 2020

Craig Utter is Executive Director for the Payette Land Trust, conserving for future generations the scenic, agricultural, ranch, recreational, historic and wildlife values of Idaho.

While originally a rancher in Nebraska, Craig began work in environmental and conservation-based non-profits. He moved to Idaho to fight forest fires on helitack crews, maintaining his conservation work in Nebraska. Eventually he moved his skill set completely to Idaho.

We talk about the inherent nature of development and a corresponding need for conservation easements, facilitated by a land trust. Commonly we think of an easement as a right-of-way. Imagine an easement for wild animal migration or agriculture.

Endowment Lands often create a conundrum as publicly-held lands leased to private companies, other government entities, and individuals for timber, agriculture, oil and gas, minerals, and private uses like homes. They can traded to create larger tracts, often beneficial, often controversial. Craig explains the challenges, offers an informed perspective, and shares some questions and potential solutions the Payette Land Trust has presented to conserve Endowment Lands.

Want to walk or bike along the river or legally pull out your boat? The Payette Land Trust is often the hub of the wheel connecting multiple government agencies and private stakeholders. To this end the Land Trust created the Payette River Basin Initiative as an umbrella structure to organize conservation and public access.

Also consider how working with one large entity is easier than several, the necessity of corridors, how agriculture is particularly important as a corridor for self-sufficient communities, and how development tends to move up river basins.

We close with how anyone can include conservation in estate planning, how to effectively submit comments to the Idaho Land Board, and other ways to support conservation efforts. Each community has unique needs, and with land and waterways the time to act is always well before we realize the need exists. Read more here at 


Bill Whitacre

Bill Whitacre

June 4, 2020

You may know Bill Whitacre in many ways, from his years managing the Simplot Company, or around town in McCall, or from his recent initiative, Crush the Curve Idaho.

While he deeply considers Idaho home, Bill also seeks inspiration in adventures around the world on a motorcycle. Idaho roads taught him some basics, allowing him to go anywhere. Almost. Getting into Iran was an intricate detour while riding the Silk Road from Turkey to China.

Learn about how continents may differ while people everywhere are truly the same. Hear Bill elaborate on how we give and receive respect across cultures. Sometimes this involves appreciating some very unusual cuisine.

This ethic of respect has him hesitate and carefully measure his words while describing a difficult journey through western China.

Bill also takes a lot of pictures, just not what you might expect. They reflect the spirit and personality of our adventurer wanting to be ‘curious and close in’ to people and their culture.

Bill closes out the conversation with the back story of Crush the Curve Idaho. He offers an inspiring call to rise above our limitations, make our systems work better, and continue cultivating respect and consensus.

Suzanne Mack

Suzanne Mack

April 22, 2020

If you’ve spent any amount of time in McCall, you’ve probably seen Suzanne Mack walking to and from work. As Office Services Supervisor at McCall Central District Health, she literally walks the talk.

We hear about what Suzanne has seen and learned from ten years of walking almost daily. She also has a unique childhood and personality that make her the perfect fit for this diverse job.

I’ve wanted to have Suzanne on the podcast from the beginning so we can learn more about our CDH. Maybe a month ago when we started getting serious about a pandemic, she remarked, “People talk about not being ready. We have been ready for a long time.”

Hear about that, along with the incredible range of services our CDH offers, including water testing, vaccines, reproductive services, dental services, food inspections, and more. Imagine them as the center of a web connecting government programs, local resources, community services, and a whole lot of wisdom from our favorite town walker.

Tom Grote

Tom Grote

April 12, 2020

Tom Grote has been Publisher of The Star-News for almost 40 years.

He describes the paper as a local “property,” emphasizing the power of journalism as a record or journal of a community—its people, culture, and events. This does not ensure objectivity. Accuracy, balance, and fairness are the values of a paper. You may know about That One Thing where Tom is not objective, and he passionately relates why.

We consider people’s attitudes toward the media, often negative. Tom explains how unbiased journalism is a relatively recent value—perhaps our news is more accurate than we think.

Hear Tom hold forth on Letters to the Editor, the favorite story of his tenure, and the nitty gritty on how a local journal brings more value to a community than social media content.

We debate the pros and cons of print versus digital, and Tom shares his preference on how to receive the news, which may surprise you. He has some ideas about our responsibilities as well.

Get a sense of the wide-ranging breadth and life of a community—what our resident journalist chronicler must know, remember, and continually emphasize.

Special note: the podcast was recorded at CUB in March 2020 before Shelter in Place restrictions took place.

Andrew Mentzer

Andrew Mentzer

March 18, 2020

Communities have a lot of people behind the scenes getting things done. Fortunately for our region, we have Andrew Mentzer, Executive Director for the West Central Mountains Economic Development Council.

Andrew’s work ethos hinges on collaboration—having conversations with everyone: non-profits, the private sector, small businesses, and government. Then collect more information, acquire funding, and implement a course of action, all with an eye on ‘best practices.’

We talk about Andrew and the Council’s work on regional broadband, housing, trail access, apprentice work programs, and how to reconcile those controversial notions of growth and development. Turns out our local version of an Economic Development Council is really something else, and that’s intentional.

You may notice the recording sounds differently than the previous episodes—we did this one by phone, adhering to the best practice of social isolation during the pandemic. We talk about getting through that as individuals and a community before Andrew shares what he’s been doing, as usual, behind the scenes.

Have a listen, and go read more for yourself at the WCMEDC website here.

Meg Lojek

Meg Lojek

March 13, 2020

You might see Meg Lojek cheering her kids at local sporting events, out on the trails, or welcoming you to the McCall Public Library.

Meg shares her unique path to becoming Director of our Public Library, a journey involving a few continents culminating with directing and opening school libraries in Bangkok.  Still an Idaho gal at heart, she acts from a sense of adventure and service, instilling this ethic in our own library.

After reviewing her life and career at home and abroad, we talk about why libraries matter. You’ll hear Meg’s sincerity for what she loves about her job. We’ll hear about the power of stories, and we’ll consider how libraries support community.

You may be surprised at all the creative ways our library works. From unusual check-out items to creative programming to how books are chosen. What about actual books versus ebooks, and what are the trends?  The book checked out the most in the last decade? Meg revealed later that the author wrote some of it in our very own library.

In the end, we hear someone dedicated, wise, and fully in love with her job.

Sherry Maupin

Sherry Maupin

February 15, 2020

Sherry personifies community engagement. She relates her unusual journey into banking as a young woman, developing a knack for seeing what communities need and finding ways to make things happen. Visionaries aren't always Implementers with a capacity for details.

Sherry’s big-picture ideals have helped generate solutions and projects in our community. We didn’t win the final ABC round or pass a recreation district; however other cool things are happening because of those efforts--trails and access, anyone?

Do you live, work, shop, or play in Valley Country? Why would anyone want to be a County Commissioner creating structures for those things? Sherry reveals her motivation, learning curve, and facing the unexpected. She shares disasters (literally), wins, and challenges we are all facing.

If you care about the sustainability and future of our community, here are some insights from a leader we see in the grocery store, full of news and ready to serve us all.

Juan Bonilla

Juan Bonilla

February 7, 2020

Donnelly Fire Chief Juan Bonilla personifies Cool.

Juan grew up in Valley County working with cattleman, then served in the Navy as a torpedoman in submarines. He returned home and began a dedicated career in fire and emergency services.

Being the Donnelly Fire Chief and Valley County Emergency Manager is more than just racing to disasters. Juan talks about building a broad volunteer base, working with kids, and creating an education hub at the Donnelly Fire Station. He has deeply studied, taught, and practiced leadership, and some of his ideas may surprise you.

Juan also gives an overview of local emergency services, what he wishes we’d all do to prevent disasters, and offers us a sincere invitation to volunteer.

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