March 22, 2021

On Saturday, March 20, local moms Chantelle Holman, Michele Holyoak, and Ashley Smith spoke about their journey into activism at the first of the Liberty Dinner Series events to be held in Pocatello.  The Liberty Dinners, sponsored by the Pocatello-Chubbuck Observer, are catered dinners that feature speakers discussing some aspect of the fight, locally, statewide, and nationally, to recover/preserve Constitutionally protected freedoms, currently under unprecedented attack.

The evening began with a prayer given by Elijah Whitecar, President of the Turning Point USA chapter at Idaho State University.  Whitecar then led the Pledge of Allegiance.

While guests enjoyed a dinner catered by Littlbird’s Grill at the Bannock County Veterans Memorial Building, John Crowder, Publisher of the Pocatello-Chubbuck Observer, briefly explained the impetus for the dinner series.  He described how, living in California from 1981 until two years ago when he moved to Idaho, he had seen the infiltration of socialist ideas throughout the state’s institutions, from the schools to the media, corporations, and the government.  This, he stated, led to an inconceivable decline in the standard of living, with high taxes, excessive regulation, massive homelessness, and rising crime rates.  Crowder said that these same ideas that had made areas of California unlivable were taking root in Idaho, and that it was important for residents to become educated and involved if they were to prevent a similar fate.

Crowder then introduced the evening’s speakers, who are the founders of RECONNECT Southeast Idaho.  Smith began by saying, “We are just three moms who saw what was happening in the world and felt strongly that something needed to be done.  It is our hope and our prayer that the spirit will be felt here tonight and that you will take away from our story the things that you need and we hope that our story can give you some courage to take action when you see things happening that do not feel right.”

Smith went on to say that, though she felt she was, “too busy” and “unqualified” at times, as she witnessed, “two weeks to flatten the curve” lead to the loss of many rights and freedoms, she had to do something.

Smith described how the three of them came together.  “Although we woke up to all that was happening at different times because of our different circumstances, we were able to connect and go on this journey together where we have learned a lot of lessons.  As we were waking up to the realization of all that was happening we realized there was a need to organize efforts so that we could take action in a meaningful way.”

Holyoak continued their story, describing how she and Smith had decided to attend a City Council meeting and speak out against the mask mandate.  It was there that they met Holman.  As Michele and Ashley were starting a Facebook group to raise awareness, Chantelle learned of the film, NONESSENTIAL: A Documentary, which tells the story of Eric Moutsos, the founder of Utah Business Revival, and his fight to save small businesses that were being destroyed by government edicts surrounding the coronavirus.

Inspired by the film, the three decided to find a venue and invite residents to see the 1-hour move and hear from Moutsos and others on how they could take action.  Over two nights, over 300 attendees saw the documentary and heard from local elected officials Commissioner Jeff Hough, Chubbuck Mayor Kevin England, and Idaho Representative Kevin Andrus.

Holman concluded the presentation by describing their progress and plans for the future.   The group has created a Mission Statement, which reads, “Our mission is to Reconnect Southeast Idaho by gathering the liberty minded, educating, and influencing our community in and with the values of freedom, set up by our Founding Fathers.”

RECONNECT Southeast Idaho is forming a nonprofit corporation and has selected a Board of Directors.  Their goals include organizing events that promote freedom, offering educational opportunities, and influencing local government.

Upcoming events being organized by them are the Un-Masquerade Ball (April 24), a “Back to Traditions” gathering, scheduled for June, a children’s Constitution Day Camp, scheduled for August, and beginning in the fall, a class on Foundations of Liberty.

The next Liberty Dinner is set for Saturday, April 17, at the Bannock County Veterans Memorial Building, 300 N. Johnson Avenue in Pocatello. The dinner, which is $25 per person (sponsorships available), features Idaho Representative Ron Nate discussing tax relief, including the elimination of the grocery tax and reduction of property taxes.  To reserve a seat, contact John Crowder at (925) 628-4033 or by email at

Like and Follow the Pocatello-Chubbuck Observer on Facebook to see updates on these and other local events and to read about what is going on in government at the local, state, and national levels.

To learn more about RECONNECT Southeast Idaho look for their page on Band and/or Facebook.  To receive their monthly email newsletter, send an email with the word, “newsletter,” in the subject line to



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