While many came to celebrate at Paul Bunyan Days, local law enforcement said the weekend left little room for rest.
Sheriff Dave Resser said his deputies worked an average of 12 hours per day through the weekend, providing law enforcement service for both the carnival and Benewah County as a whole. He said from his experience, deputies were busier at this year’s event than in years past.
“Though we haven’t had time to do the statistics yet, we were all quite busy,” he said. “It wasn’t necessarily just at the carnival, but in the general area. We had a lot of out-of-town traffic from Washington, Montana and Oregon, not even counting the counties from Idaho”
A possible sign of how busy things were in St. Maries was the situation in Aqua Park. The city opened the park to camping over the weekend, and Sheriff Resser said his deputies were dispatched several times to the area to clear roadways to ensure emergency service access. The St. Joe River also saw an increase in boat traffic, as well as complaints about said traffic from residents.
While the sheriff said there were few major issues over the weekend, there were several that stood out, including a theft from a vendor at the fair. The vendors had rented a space to sell carved wooden trucks and other wooden items. They said they had locked up the booth for the day, leaving their merchandise inside to continue sales the next day.
“They said they went to open up the next morning, and the wooden truck they had just put out was missing,” Sheriff Resser said. “It had not been bought. We have it assigned as a theft case, but so far we have no suspects.”
Another incident occurred Sept. 1 at the 10th Street Super Stop. An employee said a man had come into the store, asking if he could rest there and “sober up.” The attendant agreed.
The man sat down, and to the attendant’s shock, pulled open his pants and began masturbating. She called the sheriff’s office to have him arrested for indecent exposure, but he had left the store by the time deputies arrived. He has not been found.
Relieving some of the deputies’ workload were several officers from other jurisdictions, who volunteered to assist the sheriff’s office over the extended weekend. The sheriff extended his thanks to those officers for their assistance.
“We did have a Latah sheriff deputy and a Spirit Lake city officer who came down to work with us,” he said. “I just wanted to give them a big thank-you for that. We also had several Tribal PD officers come forward and work with us patrolling and making our presence known, which I think was a big benefit, and ISP was in and out virtually all four days pretty regularly.”