CBS KIDK News 3 | Nate Eaton | If there’s a major issue that affects Eastern Idaho, chances are Frank VanderSloot has an opinion about it.
When the old McDermott baseball field in Idaho Falls was literally days away from being shut down, Frank VanderSloot stepped forward with six hundred thousand dollars and saved the park. It’s since been renamed Melaleuca Field.
Every year, VanderSloot spends a lot of money on a spectacular freedom fireworks celebration that is completely free to the public.
VanderSloot does things like this because he’s passionate about where he lives and what happens in his community.
VanderSloot loves the outdoors and he loves to speak his mind so when a proposed development in Fremont County threatened scenic views, he took out full page newspaper ads against the project.
“I love nature,” says VanderSloot. “I love to drive and see the forests and the wildlife.”
Not only that, he’s been one of the most vocal opponents of a wind farm project in Wolverine Canyon. He put up huge anti-windmill signs and petitioned county commissioners to vote against the mills.
“I’m not an environmentalist like an environmentalist that wants to stop everything. It’s the forests and the streams that I think we outta protect,” says VanderSloot.
Frank’s also been involved in other controversial issues but perhaps none as well known as his battle with the Post Register.
In 2005, the newspaper published a 6 part series about boy scouts who were molested by their camp leader.
“I do think that that boy scout thing was way out of line,” says VanderSloot.
VanderSloot wasn’t upset the Post ran the story but he didn’t like the way they did it. So he used his monthly community page news ad in the Post Register to attack the Post Register. He even hired a law firm to conduct comprehensive research into the story.
“Now that doesn’t mean there weren’t mistakes made and that doesn’t mean that there weren’t children that were molested,” says VanderSloot. “But I felt like they were trying to blame the wrong people. Instead of blaming the molester, they were trying to blame all the youth groups and the boy scouts and they were trying to blame the leaders and they were trying to blame their church organizations.”
The Post Register believes it did not nothing wrong and stands by the story. No one mentioned in the articles ever asked the paper to issue any corrections, clarifications, or retractions and the story won numerous awards. State laws concerning child abuse were even changed because of the series.
“Are you still at odds with the Post Register over the whole boy scout thing?” asks reporter Nate Eaton.
“Not at all,” replies VanderSloot.
In fact, both VanderSloot and the Post Register believe they learned from the disagreement.
“I didn’t understand the sensitivity of the victims. I learned a lot and became really good friends with some of the victims that were involved,” says VanderSloot.
It was around this time when Frank became interested in acquiring media outlets himself.
He ended up purchasing five high-rated radio stations from Bonneville Communications and renamed the group Riverbend Communications.
“I know that I’ve appreciated when my kids listen to good music and I like stations to listen to that offer that,” says VanderSloot.
VanderSloot has also dabbled in politics endorsing candidates like Mitt Romney, Jim Risch, and voicing his opposition against others.
“Judge Herndon would have been one of those. Cathy Silac on the Supreme Court was one of those,” says VanderSloot. “When you get enough opinion that the job isn’t being done correctly, you draw conclusions that we’d be better off to have somebody new in the position.”
“Are you ever gonna run for politics, run for office?” asks Nate Eaton.
“I would be bad at it. I like to be in a position where I can get something done. And they’ve got…i mean there’s all these negotiations and deal makings and all of that stuff going on that I don’t think I’d be good at it,” says VanderSloot.
VanderSloot has also been in the headlines recently concerning a lawsuit involving a former employee.
He can’t comment on the case because it has not yet been resolved.
Coming up Friday night Frank talks candidly about his wife and how they’ve raised their 14 children.
Video Part 2