• 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 October 16. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Congress was mostly out this week, so despite big news from Washington there was little to connect to Idaho. A number of significant social subjects come up, though.

A former Republican legislator has helped form a new political action committee, Moderates are Taking Hold, aimed at encouraging independent and Democratic voters to participate in the 2018 Idaho Republican primary.

The Department of Homeland Security will continue to allow the use of current Idaho driver’s licenses and identification cards at federal security checkpoints, such as courthouses, military bases and airport TSA screenings.

Senators Michael Bennet (D-CO), Mike Crapo, Jon Tester (D-MT), Jim Risch, and Ron Wyden (D-OR) introduced the Wildfire Mitigation Assistance Act to provide resources to assist communities recovering from damaging wildfires.

A national search has gotten udnerway to find a new president of Lewis Clark State College.

Micron Technology, Inc., on October 10 announced that it intends to offer, subject to market and other considerations, approximately $1 billion of shares of common stock in an underwritten registered public offering.

Harvest season for adipose-clipped hatchery steelhead will open Sunday, Oct. 15 on the Snake, Salmon and Clearwater rivers.

A section of the Boise River Greenbelt in east Boise will be closed by Ada County starting October 25, 2017 through June 22, 2018 in order to install irrigation pipe for the Penitentiary Canal and build a wider, safer, smoother asphalt pathway for Greenbelt users.

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This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for October 9. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter announced the appointment today of Deputy Attorney General Jessica Marie Lorello of Meridian to the Idaho Court of Appeals vacancy created by the June 30 retirement of Judge John Melanson.

The Pioneer News Group Co. on October 5 announced that it is selling its media division assets to family-owned Adams Publishing Group, including several major properties in Idaho. The sale will include 22 daily and weekly newspapers in Washington, Oregon, Idaho, Montana and Utah along with a newspaper and commercial print facility, various shoppers and websites. The sale is expected to be finalized on November 1.

Justice Warren E. Jones announced he will be retiring from the Idaho Supreme Court, effective December 31, due to personal and family health circumstances.

Following numerous discussions among Western Senators Mike Crapo, Ron Wyden (D-Oregon), Jim Risch, and Michael Bennet (D-Colorado), and Administration leadership and agency officials, initial federal funding to begin fixing shortages in fire-fighting efforts known as “fire borrowing” are now being included in hurricane disaster budget recommendations.

Jayco®, Inc., a subsidiary of Thor Industries, Inc., said on October 3 that it has decided to expand their manufacturing footprint in Twin Falls.

PHOTO The Idaho Museum of Natural History on the campus of Idaho State University will open its “BISON” exhibit on October 14. “BISON” is a traveling exhibit exploring the past, present and future of this great North American mammal. The exhibit creates an interactive environment that combines history, artifacts and hands-on activities to bring to life the story of this great North American mammal. The exhibit is made possible by National Buffalo Foundation and the Kauffman Museum. “BISON” is available to museums across the United States and Canada to tell the tragic history of this majestic animal, its rescue from near extinction, and the story of people across North America working to preserve the bison as a vibrant part of our future. The museum will also host Spirits & Skeletons, Oct. 13. (Idaho State University)

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This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for July 17. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Idaho picked up a large-scale wheat deal with China this week, as good economic news generally continued to roll. Atop that, fall appeared to arrive in force (with concerns about coming snow), diminishing wildfires for the season.

Candidates have finished filing for office in Idaho municipal elections, which will be held in November.

The Idaho Water Resource Board provided an update during its meeting in Mountain Home last week on ensuring that Mountain Home Air Force Base has a long-term, sustainable water supply.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter and Idaho State Department of Agriculture Director Celia Gould met with representatives of the Taiwan Flour Mills Association and Idaho wheat industry officials today to sign an agreement supporting U.S. wheat exports over the next two years – a deal worth $576 million.

In the wake of historic wildfires in Oregon, Idaho, California, Washington and across the West, Senators Ron Wyden, D-Ore., Mike Crapo, Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., Jim Risch, Maria Cantwell, D-Wash., Orrin Hatch, R-Utah, Jeff Merkley, D-Ore., Cory Gardner, R-Colo., and Michael Bennet, D-Colo., introduced an updated version of their bipartisan wildfire funding solution that would protect desperately needed funding for fire prevention and treat wildfires as the natural disasters they are.

The Idaho Transportation Board approved a resolution and directed staff to investigate property options for relocating the Idaho Transportation Department District 4 administrative office in the vicinity of the Interstate 84/U.S. 93 junction located in Jerome County.

Senators Jim Risch and Mike Crapo congratulated Ryan Nelson of Idaho after his nomination to become Department of Interior Solicitor passed unanimously out of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee today. His nomination has been sent to the full Senate for consideration.

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said on September 22 that Idaho has agreed to join the federal government and other states in settling allegations against Mylan Inc. and its subsidiary, Mylan Specialty L.P.

In a challenging year for salmon and steelhead returns, Idaho’s most endangered salmon fared a little better than expected with 157 of them trapped in the Sawtooth Basin this summer.

PHOTO Two Idaho State University geosciences students, master’s student Graham Meese and undergraduate Jeffery Carpenter, are working with geosciences Associate Professor Ben Crosby on a long-term study of Marsh Creek, a major tributary to the Portneuf River. Their research focuses on measuring how restoration in Marsh Creek has impacted the water quality, which in turn affects the water quality of the Portneuf River. To help answer this question, their study uses two historic sources of information, aerial imagery and water quality data. Aerial imagery is used to compare 70 years of change by mapping where the channel used to be and where it is now. The researchers are looking at how the creek behaves naturally as well as how it has been changed by human modification. (Idaho State University)

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This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for July 17. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter said on September 6 that the State of Idaho and 63 Idaho schools districts and education providers have agreed to settle all financial claims with the Federal Communications Commission regarding the Idaho Education Network (IEN).

Smoke from several wildfires in Idaho and surrounding states is affecting the air quality for residents in nearly every Idaho community and is expected to continue to do so for the next several days. Public health officials are advising people in the affected areas to limit their time outside as much as possible to reduce their exposure to smoke.

The nomination of Idaho State Senator Bart Davis to serve as Idaho’s next United States Attorney has been sent to the full Senate for consideration.

Although there has been a swarm of earthquakes in Southeast Idaho the likelihood of a strong 7.0 earthquake, although possible, is remote, noted professors in the Idaho State University Department of Geosciences.

The University of Idaho saw its most successful fundraising year in its 128-year history for fiscal year 2017, receiving more than $38.7 million in gifts and commitments.

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This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for July 17. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Much of Idaho’s attention last week went to a passing, of former Governor Cecil Andrus. Services were held last week in Boise.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter appointed Fifth District Judge G. Richard Bevan of Twin Falls on August 29 to succeed retiring Justice Daniel Eismann on the five-member Idaho Supreme Court.

Ada County re-opened a section of the Boise River Greenbelt that has been closed since March because of high river flows, pathway damage and flood recovery efforts.

State regulators have denied a request to reverse their decision regarding the contract terms for several proposed PURPA battery storage projects in southern Idaho.

Idaho big game hunters have been on a roll in recent years with a top-10, all-time deer harvest in 2016, an all-time record whitetail harvest in 2015, and a top-five, all-time elk harvest in 2015.

Idaho National Laboratory has released multiple new open-source software projects that are freely available to the public and open to collaboration directly with researchers and engineers outside of the laboratory. Fostering widespread distribution of this software will accelerate the adoption of these technologies within industry, and fuel innovation in other research organizations that may build on them.

PHOTO Senator Crapo delivers remarks before presenting the Specific Manufacturing Capability (SMC) project with the Spirit of Idaho Award. (photo/Senator Crapo)

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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 legal publication Courthouse News reported on August 31 about the challenge facing the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals in working through who has rights to what water in three complex water pumping cases based in western Nevada.

Comstock Mining Inc. said on August 29 that the Nevada Department of Transportation celebrated the completion of the new Infinity Highway (formerly USA Parkway) yesterday—three months ahead of schedule. The company also said it has escrowed the sale of 54 acre-feet of water rights in two transactions that generated over $550,000. The transaction is expected to close in the first week of September and the funds will immediately be used to pay down long-term debt, consistent with the Company’s original plan.

The California Water Storage Investment Program Project Review Portal is now active. This portal will allow the public to access WSIP applications, review, and decision related documents. The Water Commission’s next meeting is on September 20.

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This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for July 17. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Idaho State University President Arthur C. Vailas on August 9 announced his plans for retirement. The announcement was made to the Idaho State Board of Education during its monthly meeting.

Construction of a non-motorized trail between the Redfish Lake recreation complex and the City of Stanley will soon become a reality, according to the Sawtooth National Forest.

The Bureau of Land Management on August 9 said livestock grazing will continue on BLM-managed portions of the Craters of the Moon National Monument in Idaho.

Major General Gary L. Sayler (pictured) announced on August 10 that he will retire October 31 after more than seven years as Adjutant General of the Idaho National Guard, capping a 45-year military career.

The Department of Finance announced on August 10 that financial regulators from five states, including Idaho, have reached a joint settlement agreement with two subsidiaries of IQor Holdings Inc. for failure to comply with federal and state consumer protection laws related to debt collection practices.

PHOTO Six thousand tons of alfalfa containing elevated levels of bromide could soon be bioenergy thanks to a collaboration between the state of Idaho and Idaho National Laboratory. (photo/Idaho National Laboratory)

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A line of argument in politics in recent years, as in the great Lyndon Johnson books by Robert Caro, has held that the old saying is a little off: Power doesn’t so much corrupt, as it reveals. Power can make the doing of things easier and with less consequence, so we can see more clearly what lies underneath.

It turns out that a solar eclipse can do the same thing.

Friends of ours, who live in the upcoming eclipse totality zone, are hosting a couple of out of state eclipse-interested friends. (Our house, six miles away, is merely in 99.8 percent totality.) They’re not charging their friends any rent or room fee. As matters sit today, I call that a passed character test.

The eclipse, to be sure, is an understandable business opportunity, and there’s no harm and nothing immoral in taking some advantage of it. But at some point, somewhere along the line, it turns into greed, and totality areas all over the country have seen some ugly behavior and sad exposures of character.

There was, for example, the news story about a woman formerly from Idaho, now living near Washington, D.C., who booked an Idaho Falls hotel room back in October 2013. They had an agreement (for a fairly high room rate based on normal Idaho Falls levels). Some months ago the hotel said it wanted to raise the rate by $60; the couple reluctantly agreed. Then, earlier this month: “[The manager] started questioning us and telling us that our rate was way too low for this event and he wanted to raise our rates. My husband said, well you have already raised our rates once and we have a contract with you.”

That hotel in the news story now reportedly has rooms listed at $700 during the eclipse period. If you’re familiar with Idaho Falls lodging, you know this is not just a slight price increase. It is not even an outlier increase, or among the highest. Quite a few establishments regionally have been shooting far over $1,000 a night for rooms that ordinarily would rent for a tenth as much. (The Idaho attorney general’s office has fielded a number of complaints about room rentals.)

Okay: Room rates are, as a normal and reasonable matter, marketplace-flexible. They vary with seasons and holidays and location popularity, and they can sometimes be negotiated by late arrivals (at places with plenty of empty rooms that same night) or by third-party deals. There’s nothing holy about a particular rate.

But when rates rise abruptly, even during times of high popularity, by factors of seven or ten or more, you have to think something in the system, and in people’s willingness to simply take advantage of others and throw conventional rule books out the window, is wrong. There are human consequences. Good luck if you need to travel then for business, or visit a relative. Good luck if you’re not wealthy.

I don’t mean here to focus over-heavily on the lodging industry; lots of private homeowners are renting out their houses for a couple of days for almost unbelievable amounts. And I don’t mean to focus either just on rental rooms; the urge to suck up stray bucks seems to have become notably intense with this particular phase of the moon. (Airbnb reports an explosion of both requests for homes, and homes on offer.)

Consider what this kind of grasping reveals not only about our willingness to take advantage of others.

There are people in the totality zone who should, in bright light, take a good look in the mirror.

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This is a summary of a few items in the Idaho Weekly Briefing for July 17. Interested in subscribing? Send us a note at stapilus@ridenbaugh.com.

Beginning August 5 Idahoans needed to dial the area code along with the seven-digit telephone number in order to make a local call. The Idaho Public Utilities Commission approved a new area code for the state in December 2015 to address the need for additional phone numbers. To implement the new area code, the Commission also approved mandatory 10-digit dialing for all of Idaho.

Two of Idaho’s largest and best-known business law firms said on August 1 that, they will join forces and unite as 75 attorneys strong under the Hawley Troxell banner.
Moffatt Thomas is joining Hawley Troxell.

The first sockeye of the year recently arrived in the Stanley Basin, including a naturally produced fish on July 27 and a hatchery fish on Aug. 2. The fish completed a 900-mile journey that included passing through eight dams and swimming 6,500 vertical feet in elevation from the Pacific to Stanley.

The Idaho Department of Insurance has posted proposed health insurance premium rates and the requested increases for plan year 2018 on its website.

The biggest solar event to pass through the area in years is just a few weeks away and the city of Pocatello is helping residents, businesses, and visitors to the Gate City get prepared.

SEAL COATING Seal coat work coming to many Magic Valley highways, impacting I-84, US 93, ID 75 and many others. (photo/Idaho Transportation Department)

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Water rights weekly report for July 24. For much more news, links and detail, see the National Water Rights Digest.

As part of its effort to restore a self-sustaining Chinook salmon population within the San Joaquin River while minimizing impacts to water contractors, the San Joaquin River Restoration Program resumed its Restoration Flows to the river July 21. Since January 4 of this year, Friant Dam releases have been managed for flood control. This precluded the program’s Restoration Flows, which include releases from Friant Dam for downstream riparian interests. With the change, water users should be aware that diversions of Restoration Flows are not allowed unless authorized by the Bureau of Reclamation, as these flows are dedicated for preservation and enhancement of fish and wildlife resources pursuant to Water Code section 1707 and are protected under the California Water Code.

AQUAOSO™, an early-stage water management and trading platform that helps customers manage, identify, buy and sell water rights is launching a beta version of its water trading platform. This initial roll-out is intended to better connect buyers and sellers of water rights.

Mexus Gold US President Paul Thompson and Marco Martinez, CEO of MarMar Holdings, announced on July 31 that there is substantial amount of gold in the pregnant pond and on the heap leach pad which is currently being leached.

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