Cindy O’Brien, Owner and Director of A to Z Counseling, was the guest speaker at the Orofino Chamber of Commerce meeting Aug. 7. She spoke about the upcoming Clearwater County branch of the Rural Crisis Center Network to be available in the near future.

Chamber members were given a brief history of A to Z Counseling, which opened in 2004. O’Brien states that she and Jason Kessinger shared a one room office on College Ave. “The business grew and we moved several times as we served the community, originally partnered with a business out of Pocatello. Eventually we bought them out and later I bought Kessinger out, and have been the sole owner since 2012.”

A to Z Counseling moved into the old Northside Medical Building in 2014, where there were three separate offices. “We initially served only those with mental health issues, then added a substance abuse program and a respite program for children with severe emotional disturbances for parents and caregivers, providing a safe place and skilled staff available to help.

The facility currently has four psychotherapists, two peer support specialists, as well as family support specialists. A case manager helps to connect clients to other community resources as needed.

“When in crisis, people suffering from mental health/addiction issues are typically sent to law enforcement or the hospital, shares O’Brien. “If centers were in place locally which were secure, safe, and with skilled professionals to de-escalate the situation, the better for the client, with less burden on law enforcement and the hospital. While there are crisis centers in larger cities with funding for medical staff and security, rural areas are having to be more creative and the state has asked private facilities to help where they can, to utilize existing resources for an “on-call” system.

A to Z Counseling will soon have three beds available on an outpatient basis. Clients may stay up to 23 hours and 59 minutes. This is not for residential or inpatient purposes. They will have time enough to sober up or calm down and get help with what needs to be done next.

The program is for adults only. O’Brien hopes to eventually open a space for adolescents as there is a real need for that resource here.

Calls will come from law enforcement or the hospital, if medical treatment is not appropriate. Most of these people are not ready for the “fifth floor” and they definitely don’t want to end up in jail. This is a safe alternative on a completely volunteer basis. There will be no lockdown and they do have the choice to leave. If we feel they aren’t safe to leave, law enforcement may be involved to help them get the help they need.

“I feel this will be a real asset to the community,” said O’Brien. This community has often had to improvise to come up with solutions when there isn’t sufficient funding. There is no model to follow for this endeavor, we are pioneers and may have to adjust as we go.

“Of course, we want to be champions in breaking the stigma of realizing that people who struggle with mental health and/or addiction are not doing it by choice. It’s not something they signed up for and not something they can just stop – they need help and that’s what we’re here for.”


Stacie Taylor, Rural Advocate of YWCA, announced details for the School Supply Drive at the Orofino Teen Center on Aug. 23, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. School supplies are still needed, drop off locations include the Orofino Post Office, P1FCU, Barney’s Harvest Foods, The Family Dollar Store, LCCU and will be collected until Aug. 16.

Items most needed include: binders, calculators, tab dividers, watercolors, backpacks, pencil boxes and pouches, No. 2 pencils, crayons, 16 and 24 count, glue sticks, rulers with inches and metric, erasers, colored pencils, compass, protractors, highlighters, scissors, index cards, wide and fine-tipped markers, flash drives, and black, blue, red and erasable pens.

Senator Crapo will be doing an ‘unincorporated community’ tour to include Ahsahka and Cavendish on Sept. 3, at the North Fork Cafe located at 56 North Fork Drive in Ahsahka. 

Joe Fairbanks, was in attandance. He is with Vitalant, a nonprofit organization, that collects blood from volunteer donors and provides blood, blood products and services across the United States. It was founded in 1943 as the Salt River Valley Blood Bank in Phoenix, AZ.

Idaho Fish & Game asks to remind the community to watch out for tagged Steelhead. Carefully examine any steelhead you catch. Look for an orange or yellow piece of plastic tubing near the dorsal fin. Each tag has a unique number printed on the tag. Record the tag number, river section where you caught the fish, and the date you caught it. Reporting a tagged fish is easy and can be done either online, or by calling us as 1-866-258-0338.

Remember: Only hatchery steelhead with clipped adipose fin may be kept. 

Also from Idaho Fish & Game: Potential for anglers to comment on the fall Chinook Salmon fishery in the Clearwater River regarding the Structure of the 2019 Clearwater River Fall Chinook Salmon Season here: -2019-clearwater-river-fall-chinook- salmon-season

Clearwater County is collecting information from residents about their broadband experiences across the City.

To contribute, please access link below, answer the questions and then take the Broadband Speed Test: 

Cynthia Cowell with the Small Business Administration (SBA) attended Wednesday’s meeting to announce the opening of a crisis center at City Hall in Kooskia, to help business owners and home owners who were affected by the flooding in April.

The next general membership meeting for the Orofino Chamber of Commerce is Sept. 4, 12 noon in the back room of the Ponderosa.

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