Year In Review: The year’s ‘lighter side’

Aren’t you glad news isn’t always serious? We are. That’s why we’re looking back at this year’s most memorable “lighter side” stories.

From a pig farmer and former teacher who writes and wallows in the dirtiest of literature to four East Idaho sibling administrators, we’re looking back at the top five funny, obscure or otherwise not-so-well-known phenomena that grabbed your attention in 2016.

1. Former teacher leads “Dirty” double life

From teacher to pig farmer to steamy romance novelist, Heidi Jo Hooper tops our list. Not only has she managed to crack into the tough craft of publishing books, she’s landed her pen name, H.J. Bellus, on USA Today’s best-seller list in the process.

Heidi Jo Hooper
Heidi Jo Hooper

And her novels are actually steamy — like, hot-sauna-in-the-Sahara steamy, with titles such as “Dirty,” “The Big O,” and “Mr. Right Now.”

(We’re not able to post excerpts here.)

After three years of living a double life, the novelist and pig farmer only recently revealed herself as Bellus. And even her epiphany for “coming out” was steeped in dirtiness.

“I was bent over scrubbing a pig’s butt thinking it was so ironic and nobody knew,” Hooper told Idaho Education News this summer.

2. Administrator spends summers rolling in the dirt and smoke

Dennis Konrad 1
Dennis Konrad

There’s more than one way for educators to “get dirty.” School administrator by day, firefighter by summer — Dennis Konrad comes in at second on our list.

Konrad’s profile nabbed a lot of attention this summer as part of our series on educators and their summer jobs. He’s fought fires for the BLM since graduating high school — 32 summers ago — while simultaneously teaching U.S. history at Boise High School for 23 years.

3. Four brothers fill administrative roles in four East Idaho districts

Four East Idaho brothers work as school administrators in East Idaho — all within a 50-mile radius.

  • Randy Lords, Madison School District assistant superintendent

    Screen Shot 2016-12-28 at 3.55.00 PM
    From left to right: Jason, Bryan, Eric and Randy Lords
  • Eric Lords, Shelley High School principal (Shelley School District)
  • Bryan Lords, Rigby High School principal (Jefferson Joint School District)
  • Jason Lords, Rocky Mountain Middle School principal (Bonneville School District)

We knew the story had some appeal, but didn’t expect it to spread like the kind of wildfire that would make Dennis Konrad himself wince. In all, the Lords’ story reached more than 28,000 Facebookers.

Perhaps it was the brothers’ shenanigans that live on in their capacities as administrators that mesmerized you. (Oldest brother Randy still prank calls his younger brothers at school, posing as their probation officer.)

Whatever it was, the boys’ mother, Daphne, assured us all that “each one is her favorite.”

4. Idaho teacher doubles as summer rocker

Those long dirty-blonde, Fabio-like locks could’ve come straight out of a steamy H.J. Bellus novel.

Submitted photo
Aaron Ball

Easy, ladies.

Harboring a slight New Zealand drawl and easy smile, Aaron Ball plucks his way to No. 4 on our list.

For decades, the singer/shop teacher has crammed a year’s worth of musical performances into a summer. And his music career has garnered some real benefits from it. His current ensemble, The Aaron Ball Band, headlines shows throughout the northwest and overseas, including Australia and New Zealand. He’s also shared stages with major acts, such as Sublime and Great White.

In 2011, Ball’s song “Second Gear” received radio play throughout the United States and topped charts on the worldwide social media site for musicians: ReverbNation.

5. Idaho school board members dominate lip sync battle at the annual ISBA conference

We’re going to let the video do all the talking on this last one. Just hit play below.