Mark Fenton draws up ideas on an Orofino map with ways to make a pedestrian route along the Clearwater River. Cheryl Gerhart, a teacher in Orofino, would love to be able to run along the beautiful river safely.


OROFINO —When national community health expert Mark Fenton presented to a group of community leaders, the result was a mobilized community that is even more motivated to make Orofino a safer place for children to be active.

Mark was in Orofino as part of the Blue Cross of Idaho Foundation for Health’s $250,000 Community Transformation Grant to the city. The workshop included discussion on why communities should think about intersections, sidewalks, bike lanes, trails and connectivity, as well as the walk audit and a brainstorm session.

Mark was impressed by the energy, discussion and passion of the community leaders and urged them to take action.

“We covered a lot of stuff,” he said. “I was really impressed with the energy and concrete ideas.”

Mark Fenton conducts a walk audit in Orofino with community leaders.

One of the ideas floated around the room of community leaders, which includes government officials, business owners, citizens,

civic and religious groups and healthcare workers, was a roundabout at one of the busiest intersections in town. Those circles help maintain vehicle flow and lower speeds of vehicles to make intersections safer.

In a small city such as Orofino that doesn’t have a single traffic light, this would be a big change.

But it’s one that many in the room believe is possible solution that would better serve all users, including cars and the logging trucks that use the route frequently.

“I would not have said that before today,” Orofino City Councilwoman Jennifer Dunaway said.

“I feel the same way – it fits,” Mayor Ryan Smathers said.

The current intersection makes it difficult for pedestrians to get to the park, which also hosts the weekly farmers’ market and is home to the popular Maniac Shack refreshment stand.

At the end of the workshop, some of the participants summed up their experiences with six-word stories.

“We need a roundabout right now.”

“Walk how and where grandmothers do.”

“Cheryl wants safe running on riverside.”

“Let’s get it done right now.”

“Lots of things to think about.”

“Look at community through new eyes.”

Orofino community leaders listen to Mark Fenton during a workshop.