The newest salvo in the Trump vs. diversity sign war was fired today as a bigger, brighter "Welcome to Trump Country" replaced the small, weather-worn sign on Highway 95 across from Mirror Lake Golf Course this afternoon.
The new sign even boosts the Badgers!
A smaller, faded sign had greeted north traveling motorists for months if not years, and in June, an actual billboard sign, also facing south, went up near Carter Country in Bonners Ferry proclaiming Boundary County as a place that welcomes diversity.
While it went up with no fanfare and no mention of the old "Trump Country" sign, the day after the "diversity" sign went up it was alleged on a Facebook page that the Trump sign had been vandalized, shot with paintballs.
If there had been such vandalism occurred, it was not visible later that morning.
Under Idaho Code on highway signage, the "Trump Country sign is not a legal sign, even though it is privately owned and on privately-owned property, as off-premise signs of that size are allowed only on commercial properties within incorporated cities.
Erected in the 1990s, the sign originally advertised the Paradise Valley Inn and was on Inn property, making it a legal on-premise business sign. Later, the property sold, the Inn sign came down, leaving bi-directional white faces overlooking the highway.
In time, the property sold and, no longer part of the Paradise Valley Inn, lost its on-premise status. While it does not encroach on highway right of way, the law applies to off-premise signage visible from a state or federal highway.
While the billboard law is on the books, this one may be allowed to stand by the Idaho Transportation Department, the agency responsible for enforcing that particular law, at least for a while, due to its political content and the fact that this is a presidential election year.
Idaho's campaign signage laws, much like politics itself, are much less clear and well defined.