News

If you think money has too great a role in Idaho politics, or worry that it could be headed that way, you have until tomorrow to give Idaho voters a chance to decide on some restrictions.

An effort by the political advocacy group Keep Idaho Elections Accountable to reform Idaho’s campaign finance laws needs 48,000 signatures by Saturday to get proposed changes on the ballot in November.

City of Boise

On Sunday evening, hot water poured on to the intersection of Grove and 3rd streets in downtown Boise. Steam filled the air as a leak from the city's underground geothermal line brought attention to a system not many people know much about.

Peter Morrill / Boise State Public Radio

In southeast Boise, Boise State University's Ron and Linda Yanke Family Research Park sits between the Boise River and Parkcenter Boulevard. Because of its lush green campus and proximity to the water, the building is home to many geese who choose to nest and settle in along the facility. The building is also home to Boise State Public Radio. (You may have even heard on-air geese making noise directly above our studios.)

Though goose and gosling sightings are common at the station, a particular family of geese has captured our attention.

Flickr Creative Commons

Residents of a southeast Boise neighborhood say at least 25 cats have disappeared from the area in the last few months and are concerned missing cats could be a problem throughout the city.

Cat owners tell KBOI-TV that felines started disappearing last July and then again in the last few weeks.

Erin Liedtke says five stray cats living in her garage for eight years all vanished in the last nine months.

Humane Society spokeswoman Allison Maier says predators are a big concern and a reason cats go missing.

screengrab / National Geographic Channel

Mud baths aren't just for spa-loving humans.

A National Geographic video captured both grizzlies and black bears submerging in what's referred to as a "bear bathtub" in Yellowstone National Park. The natural swimming hole serves as a place for the bears to cool off, take a drink and get squeaky clean.

Cameras placed around the hole recorded the action, giving insight into the iconic predators' behavior.

Penn State / Flickr Creative Commons

A recent audit found significant problems with the federally-managed nuclear waste treatment plant west of Idaho Falls.

The Post Register reports the audit outlined cost overruns, a lack of rigorous testing and other management issues at the Department of Energy facility known as the Integrated Waste Treatment Unit.

The DOE Office of the Inspector General's report says the project's construction costs have exceeded the $571 million cap set in 2010 and will likely continue to accrue.

Chobani, Greek Yogurt
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Chobani says it is giving its employees an ownership stake in the privately held company.

The Greek yogurt maker says the shares being distributed would amount to 10 percent of the company's future value in the event of a sale or initial public offering. It says each of its approximately 2,000 full-time employees will receive shares based on their role and time spent with the company.

 

Chobani says CEO and founder Hamdi Ulukaya is meeting with employees this week to talk about the plan in person.

Glen Hush / U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

Raptor biologist Janie Veltkamp met Beauty in 2007. Beauty is a 14-year-old bald eagle, and back then the bird was struggling to survive. She had been illegally shot in the wild, and lost her upper beak from the trauma. Without her upper beak – which is vital to eating – she wasn’t expected to live very long.

phone, office
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

A new phone scam has hit the area, according to the Boise Police Department.

Scammers are able to manipulate the caller ID so the phone call appears to be from a BPD phone number. They claim Boise Police have a warrant out for their arrest on an unpaid payday type loan. The scammers say officers will arrest them unless the money is paid over the phone.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

A group of Boise State students has built a tool for NASA that one day might go into space. The Microgravity team is in NASA in Houston this week, where it will be tested by experts. If it does well, NASA may use the design on a mission to study asteroids.

“It’s kind of heavy. This is last year’s tool, if it wants to cooperate,” Boise State University student Chris Ruby is holding what looks like a weird, oversized pistol with boxes on one end. Everyone on the Microgravity team calls it “The Tool.”

UPDATE: As of 3:06 p.m. Tuesday, we are very pleased to announce that regular KBSS programming service to the Wood River Valley has been restored. Today, technicians from CenturyLink repaired the leased T-1 line that provides our programming service audio feed to the Seattle Ridge KBSS transmitter, which service the greater Wood River Valley.

Texas.713 / Flickr Creative Commons

The Idaho Potato Commission says its traveling advertisement, the Great Big Idaho Potato Truck, could roll on indefinitely.

The Capital Press reports that IPC considered retiring the truck after its current tour, but recent celebrity comments may have saved it. President and CEO Frank Muir says IPC is now leaning toward keeping the giant potato on the road as long as the public is eager to see it.

Idaho Department of Health and Welfare

Idaho’s child immunization rates improved in 2015, reaching a five-year high.

And Department of Health and Welfare officials don’t know what to make of the numbers yet.

 

In 2015, 86.7 percent of Idaho students were considered “adequately immunized,” according to Health and Welfare spreadsheets obtained this week by Idaho Education News. The 2014 figure was 85.6 percent.

TASER International / Facebook

A Wall Street Journal investigation this week highlights some possibly shady business practices by Taser, the maker of the eponymous shock device and other police hardware. It uses the Boise Police Department’s nearly $1.5 million body camera deal with Taser last year as an example.

According to the Journal, Taser convinces police departments it is the only company that can provide services in order to secure contracts without having to go through an open bidding process. That’s done, the Journal says, by giving free trips to decision makers.

internet, computer, broadband,
Sean MacEntee / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho officials originally agreed to pay $7.2 million in a settlement over an illegal statewide contract that provided broadband in public schools.

However, a March ruling from the Idaho Supreme Court halted settlement talks after justices upheld a lower court's ruling deeming the $60 million contract was illegal. The surprise ruling came down in the final days of the settlement being finalized.

St Luke's Hospital Sign
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

A U.S. Department of Labor investigation found that one of Idaho’s largest employers was systematically violating the Family and Medical Leave Act.

The Labor Department says St Luke’s Medical Center failed to ensure that employees received FMLA protections.

Bureau of Land Management

The senate subcommittee on public lands, forests and mining will take up a bill Thursday with a long history in southwest Idaho.

Known as the Owyhee Wilderness Areas Boundary Modification Act, the bill amends a 2009 public land management law. Idaho Senator Mike Crapo’s bill would allow ranchers to use motorized vehicles to herd and monitor livestock in the wilderness areas.

Wikimedia Commons

Members of Boise State’s Osher Institute Tuesday heard lectures linking Senator Joseph McCarthy’s Communist witch-hunts of the 1950s to Idaho. History writer Marc Johnson connected the dots between McCarthy and two Idaho elections.

Thomas Hawk / Flickr Creative Commons

Sun Valley Co. officials say the number of skier visits to the company's ski area on central Idaho's Bald Mountain last winter is the most in a decade.

Spokesman Jack Sibbach tells the Idaho Mountain Express that the company had 419,000 skier days last winter.

The company says that's the most since the 2005-2006 season with 421,000 skier days.

Sibbach attributes last winter's high number to good early season snowfall, a strong national economy, expanded air service and advertising.

Department of Interior

In an address at the National Geographic Society in Washington D.C., Interior Secretary Sally Jewell stressed the need for what she characterized as a "major course correction" in conservation. Despite her location at the nation's capital, the majority of her comments were about places thousands of miles away. 

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