• David Frazier's memoir of Vietnam, "Drafted!", is multilayered - from the days of war in the 60s to return visits as a photography - and as complex as the place itself.
From local to national, to around the world. From inside the home to speculative. From fact to fiction - though we do take care about which is which.

This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for January 1. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

The U.S. Air Force has selected the Idaho Air National Guard’s Gowen Field in Boise as one of three “reasonable alternative” sites for the future basing of F-35A Lightning II fighter aircraft. Truax Field in Wisconsin and Dannelly Field in Alabama were selected as preferred alternatives. Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter, Boise Mayor David Bieter and Brigadier General Michael J. Garshak – Idaho’s adjutant general – said they were pleased that Gowen Field would remain under consideration to receive an F-35 mission. However, Gowen Field is not among the top two contenders.

All four of Idaho’s members of Congress voted in favor of the Republican-backed tax overhaul legislation, signed into law shortly before the end of the year by President Trump.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter announced the appointment today of Idaho Falls City Council member Barbara Ehardt to complete Janet Trujillo’s unexpired term in the Idaho House of Representatives.

Idaho’s standard unemployment insurance tax rate for 2018 – will drop 1.5 percent to 1.374 percent for 2018.

The Boise City Council on December 19 approved a number of changes to the city’s downtown parking regulations in an effort to increase availability of on-street parking for short-term visits and to encourage use of garages and perimeter parking for longer stays.

It must be ice fishing season, because Lake Cascade is again kicking out record fish. Meridian angler Dave Gassel recently landed a 9.04-pound largescale sucker to take home the title.

PHOTO A hunter hunting water fowl in the southwest region. (Image: Roger Phillips, Idaho Fish & Game)
 

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This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for December 18. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

With the arrival of new winter storms in many areas around Idaho, the state slows down many activities for the Christmas holiday period. Around the bend: a new legislative session and renewed activity on the political campaign front.

On December 7 the U.S. Department of State announced that formal negotiations with Canada over the fate of the fifty-three year old U.S.-Canada Columbia River Treaty will begin in early 2018. A broad coalition of conservation, fishing and religious organizations representing hundreds of thousands of Pacific Northwest residents, hailed the announcement.

Members of Idaho’s Congressional Delegation praise the announcement by the U.S. Department of Energy to extend the operations contract of the Battelle Energy Alliance at the Idaho National Laboratory as well-deserved reflection of their outstanding work and contributions to U.S. energy security.

Students who enroll at the College of Eastern Idaho will now be able to automatically enroll in the University of Idaho through an agreement brokered between the two schools.

Greek housing student leadership at the University of Idaho has self-imposed a moratorium on all alcohol-related activities until specific benchmarks, created by student affairs and Greek leaders, are met by each house. The moratorium is not in response to any one incident but instead a response to the growing national crisis surrounding personal violence like hazing and sexual assault, as well as alcohol abuse.

The Idaho Transportation Board approved a resolution today (Thursday, Dec. 14) to analyze three alternate locations for the Idaho Transportation Department District 4 administrative office from its current location in Shoshone to near the Interstate 84/U.S. 93 junction.

Orgill will use a $151,032 Workforce Development Training Fund grant to hire and train 167 new workers for permanent full-time positions at its Post Falls distribution center.

The numbers are in and they’re impressive. In 2017, anglers caught and removed more than 191,000 northern pikeminnow from the Columbia and Snake rivers, protecting young salmon and steelhead from predation.

PHOTO Plans were released for a replacement hospital at Nampa, to be built by the St. Alphonsus Regional Medical Center organization, at I-84 and Garrity/ (Image: St. Alphonsus)
 

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This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for December 11. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

As the Legislature gets closer to its 2018 session, political news picks up in advance of the political holidays: Democrats got a new governor candidate, the Republican candidates continued with hot campaigning, and a legislator was named to the state Tax Commission.

State Representative Paulette Jordan, D-Plummer, 38, said she will run for governor in 2018.

The Senate Banking Committee, led by Chairman Mike Crapo, advanced the bipartisan “Economic Growth, Regulatory Relief and Consumer Protection Act,” S. 2155, with 16 committee members supporting the measure.

After a nearly eight-month review of National Monument designations under the Antiquities Act, Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo and U.S. Representative Mike Simpson on December 5 applauded the Department of Interior’s decision to follow the delegation’s recommendation to make no modifications to Craters of the Moon National Monument.

The Idaho Department of Lands on December 6 sold five commercial properties today for $8,490,000 at an auction in Meridian. All bids totaled $1,585,000 above the appraised price of the properties. There was competitive bidding on all properties that sold.

The city of Nampa is exploring different options to fight the masses of crows gathering in the Downtown Nampa area. The city has received several complaints. Research so far shows that a multi-pronged approach is necessary to disrupt the crows roosting habits.

An inmate who escaped from what is now known as the East Boise Community Reentry Center 19 years ago is in custody after the Idaho Department of Correction’s Special Investigations Unit located her living under an assumed name in South Dakota.

PHOTO From a hearing on public health issues organized by Idaho Voices for Children. A participant reported, “the turnout was much larger than expected. The room was filled past capacity and many people were standing waiting to testify, they even had to prepare an overflow room. The testimony was overwhelmingly positive and focused on including mental health conditions on the 1115 waiver, there was only one oppositional testimony.” (Photo: Idaho Voices for Children)
 

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Water rights weekly report for July 17. For much more news, links and detail, see the National Water Rights Digest.

The Bureau of Reclamation has released two funding opportunities for fiscal year 2018 through its Drought Response Program, which is part of the Department of the Interior’s WaterSMART program. These funding opportunities are available for entities to develop drought contingency plans and build long-term solutions to drought.

The U.S. Senate has confirmed Brenda Burman as the U.S. Department of the Interior Bureau of Reclamation Commissioner. She is the first woman to ever lead the Bureau.

Seniority in water rights is in many places a precious asset, but not a guarantee that the right won’t be taken away. That may happen in the case of Martha Carr, who lives in Burbank, California but owns property in South Dakota. He was the eventual inheritor of Robert Wittke, a settler who had filed for the right at French Creek near Custer in 1878.

The Texas Commission on Environmental Quality has held off until at least mid-December intervention in a water use battle over the San Saba River, where are landowners say that upstream farmers have been over-pumping water.
They maintain the upstream users have been pumping in excess of their permitted water rights, and have asked for a watermaster to control that use.

The Bureau of Reclamation and State of Utah are initiating negotiations for a water exchange contract, which proposes exchanging the state’s assigned Green River water right for use of Colorado River Storage Project water released from Flaming Gorge Dam. The negotiation meeting is scheduled for Monday, December 4, 2017, at 1:00 p.m. at the Dixie Convention Center, 1835 South Convention Center Drive, St. George, Utah.

Will the Governor’s Drought Interagency Coordinating Group recommend to Governor Ducey that he add the approaching “water year” to the State’s lengthy string of official drought years? Or will the panel recommend that the official dry spell designation end in Arizona, thus following in the footsteps of California, where that state’s drought designation was lifted in the wake of its extraordinarily wet winter? Considering that much of Arizona remains in the same long-term state of drought it has experienced since the mid-1990s, the ICG’s recommendation for maintaining the declaration was not the toughest of calls, as it turned out.
 

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This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for December 4. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Representative Mike Simpson discussed the issue of fire borrowing during a House Interior, Environment, and Related Agencies Appropriations Subcommittee hearing with Chief of the Forest Service, Tony Took. Specifically, Simpson emphasized the need to fund wildfires like other natural disasters.

Finding strange, non-native creatures living in the Boise River has nearly become a tradition, or at least, a recurring incident, and Idaho Fish and Game would like to see it end. In a recent case, Fish and Game crews surveying the Boise River near Warm Springs Golf Course discovered a freshwater shrimp commonly known as “grass” or “ghost” shrimp that are native to the lower Mississippi River.

Essential services like hospitals and water treatment depend on energy distribution to ensure reliable and continuous operations. As the power grid evolves, becoming more connected and responsive, those new, smart devices can introduce greater cyber vulnerabilities. To address this challenge, the power grid test bed at the U.S. Department of Energy’s 890-square-mile Idaho National Laboratory has been transitioned to a more adaptive architecture.

Governor C.L. “Butch”Otter on November 27 said that Chief Operating Officer Bobbi-Jo Meuleman will become director of the Idaho Department of Commerce on January 1 when Director Megan Ronk departs to lead business development efforts for Idaho Power Co.

Avista Corporation said on November 21 the preliminary results of a special meeting of shareholders to approve the proposed acquisition of the company by Hydro One Limited.

Twin Falls on December 1 held the grand opening of the new Twin Falls City Hall with guided tours, building dedication, and Tree Lighting.

PHOTO Winter season at Lolo Pass Visitor Center, located on the Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests along Highway 12 at the Idaho–Montana state line, will begin Saturday, December 2. (Photo: Nez Perce-Clearwater National Forests)
 

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This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for November 27. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Thanksgiving week was a relatively quiet week in Idaho, as elsewhere. And as elsewhere, Black Friday seemed to be a smaller economic factor than in recent past years, a point likely to make ripple effects through the retail economy.

A special meeting of the State Board of Land Commissioners is scheduled for Dec. 5 to vote on a final grazing rate approach and formula for endowment lands. The meeting will start at 9 a.m. in Senate Room WW55 in the Idaho Capitol, located at 700 W. Jefferson Street in Boise.

A popular community attraction – the Idaho Falls Zoo at Tautphaus Park – inches forward toward expansion thanks to a cooperative venture between the City of Idaho Falls and Bonneville County.

Clearwater Paper Corporation on October 19 reported financial results for the third quarter of 2017. The company reported net sales of $426.5 million for the third quarter of 2017, down 2.0% compared to net sales of $435.3 million for the third quarter of 2016.

Idaho Power will honor Idaho State University’s Holt Arena on November 20, for a major lighting upgrade that resulted in substantial energy savings.

Idaho Power Company recently completed work on the last phase of its King to Wood River 138-kilovolt (kV) transmission line rebuild. The power line upgrades provide improved reliability and capacity thanks to new steel structures and larger wire.

PHOTO Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and his wife Lori (with Santa and an elf) prepare for the annual Christmas tree lighting. (Photo: Governor Otter)
 

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This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for November 20. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Biggest news of the week probably was the announcement of next year’s retirement by Boise State University President Bob Kustra, though it had been widely expected for a while. That change in presidency will doubtless be a major topic of discussion in the year ahead.

A surge in the number of Idahoans 16 and older working or looking for work in October increased the pool of available workers for employment and pushed the state’s unemployment rate up to 2.9 percent. While October’s one-tenth of a percentage point increase in unemployment was the first increase in eight years, the addition of 4,850 people to the labor force was one of the largest monthly increases on record and helped move the state’s labor force participation rate up to 63.5 percent.

The U.S. Department of the Interior said the Bureau of Land Management has signed a Record of Decision for the Boardman to Hemingway Transmission Line Project. The B2H Project will provide additional electrical capacity between the Pacific Northwest and the Intermountain West regions.

The Idaho Water Resource Board heard this week that about 280,000 acre-feet of water is expected to be recharged into the Eastern Snake Plain Aquifer this winter. That’s on top of more than 90,000 acre-feet of recharge since the end of August.

Senate Banking Committee Chairman Mike Crapo and Banking Committee members Joe Donnelly (D-Indiana), Heidi Heitkamp (D-North Dakota), Jon Tester (D-Montana) and Mark Warner (D-Virginia), along with other senators, announced an agreement on legislative proposals to improve the financial regulatory framework and promote economic growth.

The Sawtooth National Recreation Area is seeking public comments on the proposal to revise and update the motorized travel system in the Big Wood River watershed northwest of Ketchum

PHOTO The revamped Drop and Impact Pad (DRIP) Outdoor Facility. See article in the health and education section. (Idaho State University)

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This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for November 13. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

City elections were held last week across Idaho, with a few dramatic results (as in Nampa and Idaho Falls) but mostly suggesting no drastic change of direction. A good deal of attention, however, went to national politics, where the results generated more discussion.

November 7 was city election day around Idaho. While no statewide elections were on the ballot, many cities had plenty of decisions in store, and a number of bond issues and other measures appeared on local ballots as well.

All told, voters approved $92.7 million in school bond issues and levies Tuesday, including a plan that will pay for a series of building upgrades across Teton County. But three measures failed, including Idaho Falls’ $110 million bond issue. (IdahoEdNews)

Senators Mike Crapo and Jim Risch on November 4 welcomed the appointments of Layne Bangerter and Evan Frasure to serve Idaho as part of the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

A first-of-its kind statewide summit will bring together Idahoans for an interactive two-day conversation entitled Safeguarding Idaho’s Economy in a Changing Climate – Our Water, Our Land, Our Health, Our Future on Nov. 16 and 17.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter on November 7 appointed Jarom Wagoner, a senior planner for the city of Caldwell, to fill the Idaho House of Representatives seat vacated by the recent resignation of State Representative Brandon Hixon.

PHOTO The scene at Highway 93 about 24 miles south of Hollister, near Jackpot on November 11, taken from a state road cam. (Idaho Department of Transportation)
 

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Water rights weekly report for July 17. For much more news, links and detail, see the National Water Rights Digest.

The state of Oklahoma on October 10 approved a major water diversion request by the city of Oklahoma City. Oklahoma City had asked the state for a regular permit to use 115,000 acre feet from the Kiamichi River and Sardis Lake for general municipal uses. The state noted “the application was protested by 85 persons including entities, 25 of whom were recognized as parties at the date of the hearing,” which was held on August 21 to 24.

The state of Oregon positioned itself in late October to reject a proposal from Nestle Water for its plan to bottle water from the Cascade Locks area in the Columbia River Gorge. The proposal for a Nestle water bottling plant would involve an exchange of .5 cfs of spring water, presently being used for a state Department of Fish & Wildlife salmon hatchery, for an equivalent amount of Cascade Locks city groundwater.

In a critical ruling for Wisconsin’s waters, Dane County Circuit Court ordered the DNR to vacate, or invalidate, seven high-capacity well permits and remand one for consideration. Clean Wisconsin sued the DNR in October of 2016, after the agency issued a series of high-capacity well permits that disregarded its own scientific analysis of the impacts the wells would have on neighboring water bodies. The proposed wells would be located primarily in the Central Sands region of Wisconsin, where groundwater depletion is already a serious problem.

After five years of drought, the 2017 water year brought unexpectedly heavy precipitation, ranking second only to 1983 as California’s wettest year for statewide runoff. The dramatic swing in water conditions highlights the need to develop better long-range weather forecasting to cope with the state’s highly variable annual precipitation.

The Bureau of Reclamation has released a Finding of No Significant Impact for Alternative 1 from the Bureau of Land Management’s 2014 Final Environmental Assessment for the Southern Nevada Intertie (Harry Allen to Eldorado 500 kV Transmission) Project.

A new Boise River system feasibility study has been launched to investigate the possibility of increasing surface water storage in the Boise River watershed by raising the height of up to three dams on the Boise River. The Bureau of Reclamation and the Idaho Water Resource Board (IWRB) are working together on options to increase water storage capacity at Arrowrock, Anderson Ranch, and/or Lucky Peak dams.

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This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for October 30. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Enrollment seems to be up, a bit, at most of Idaho’s colleges and universities. And several of them are reporting some striking projects – from homeless analysis to avalanche warnings – around the state.

The Idaho State Tax Commission has published the latest tax burden study, which compares Idaho’s state and local taxes with those of other states and the District of Columbia. Alan Dornfest, the Tax Commission’s property tax policy bureau chief, conducted the annual study based on data from fiscal year (FY) 2015, the latest year for which U.S. Census Bureau figures are available.

The Salmon-Challis National Forest, Sawtooth National Forest and the Bureau of Land Management Idaho Falls District are providing another opportunity for the public to review and comment on the refined wilderness management plans and environmental analysis associated with the Hemingway-Boulders, White Clouds and Jim McClure-Jerry Peak wilderness areas.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter significantly restructured the State’s Workforce Development Council on October 26, seeking to close the gap between the training and education that Idaho job seekers have and the skills that Idaho employers need.

Rocky Mountain Power and the city of Idaho Falls have requested approval of an agreement that would help resolve transfers of service among existing customers in areas annexed by the city.

PHOTO Boise State University celebrated the opening of the new Honors College and Sawtooth Hall with a dedication and ribbon-cutting ceremony on October 24. Home to 656 students, the new five-story, $40 million building includes Honors-dedicated living and learning spaces, as well as housing for other students, a dining venue, classrooms and spaces designed to boost the student experience on campus. The 236,000-square-foot building is located in the center of campus on University Drive across the street from the Student Union Building. (Boise State University)

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