News

Mormon church, temple square, salt lake city
Doug Kerr / Flickr Creative Commons

New figures from the Mormon church show that a record increase in missionaries didn't lead to an equally dramatic spike in converts.

Statistics released by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints show there were nearly 300,000 converts last year. The figure marked a 9 percent increase from two years ago, even though the number of missionaries increased by 44 percent.

Mormon church spokesman Eric Hawkins said a number of factors may contribute to fewer baptisms per missionary, including a world that is increasingly secular.

Idaho National Laboratory / Flickr Creative Commons

Nuclear officials told a citizen's advisory board recently that a minor accident last year temporarily shut down work at a cleanup site in eastern Idaho and exposed a staffer to low levels of radiation.

Idaho Cleanup Project spokesman Mark Brown has said the accident Oct. 23 at the Idaho National Laboratory site came as workers repackaged nuclear waste.

Decontamination efforts delayed work for seven weeks, and one worker was exposed to a small amount radiation, but not enough cause health problems, Brown said April 8.

Chad Dryden / The Record Exchange

Boise rockers Built to Spill will officially release their eighth full-length album next Tuesday.

"Untethered Moon" is the first studio album from the band since 2009, and features a new lineup with drummer Steve Gere and bassist Jason Albertini.

But as part of National Record Store Day, vinyl lovers will get an early chance to pick up the new record on Saturday.

Aaron Kunz / Idaho Public Television

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has vetoed a bill that would have legalized a marijuana extract for patients with severe forms of epilepsy.

In his veto letter, Otter said his administration has strongly opposed the legislation because "there were too many questions and problems and too few answers and solutions in this bill to let it become law."

Butch Otter
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter said Thursday he is not yet prepared to call a special legislative session to address child support.

Just before the 2015 legislative session ended last weekend, members of a House committee killed a bill to bring Idaho in compliance with changes to federal child support programs.

Amanda Peacher / OPB

On Nov. 13, 2014, Tod Halsey noticed something strange about one part of the roof under the cut shop at Woodgrain Millwork. It was sagging between two beams.

“It was literally bowing,” said Halsey, a forklift driver who worked at the mill for 28 years. “It looked like it was smiling.”
 

“I told supervisors,” he said. “They came out and looked at it and said it would be all right.”

The sagging roof troubled Halsey, but he said even he would not have guessed what would come.

SkyWest, airplane, airport
Aero Icarus / Flickr Creative Commons

SkyWest Airlines has announced it will soon offer jet flights between West Yellowstone and Salt Lake City to connect passengers with Delta flights.

The Delta Connection flights, operated by SkyWest, will begin in June. The airline says it will run flights twice a day from Thursday through Monday and once each day on Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The U.S. Agriculture Department has declared two northeast Nevada counties natural disaster areas due to the lingering drought with an emergency order that also makes emergency low-interest loans available to farmers, ranchers and businesses in parts of neighboring Idaho and Utah.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack on Tuesday declared Nevada's Elko and Eureka counties primary natural disaster areas. The disaster assistance that becomes available there also applies to contiguous counties in Utah — Box Elder and Tooele — and in Idaho's Cassia, Owyhee and Twin Falls counties.

Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife

State biologists are telling the Oregon Fish and Wildlife Commission there is enough information to consider taking the gray wolf off the state endangered species list.

A draft status review was posted Tuesday on the Oregon Department of Fish and Wildlife website with materials for the commission's next meeting.

A final decision is not scheduled until August, but the commission is to make the first step in the process — deciding whether it has enough information to consider the issue - when it meets April 24 in Bend.

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Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Boise’s long-awaited bike share system will begin installing stations downtown this week. Boise GreenBike hopes to have its first 15 stations operational, and its first 114 bikes on the road by the end of April.

Boise GreenBike Director Dave Fotsch says four years' worth of work will culminate in the next few weeks. 

npr.org/blogs/money

Truck driver is the most common job in most states, including here in Idaho, according to NPR's Planet Money team.

Tony Morris / Flickr Creative Commons

Government scientists say a warming climate could significantly reduce the amount of greater sage grouse habitat in portions of Wyoming, a key stronghold for the troubled bird species.

The chicken-sized grouse already has seen dramatic declines in recent decades due to disease, oil drilling, grazing and other factors.

U.S. Geological Survey scientists said a warming climate could become an even greater risk, reducing nesting habitat by 12 percent by 2050.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho lawmakers finished the 2015 legislative session early Saturday morning, boasting major funding increases for Idaho's teachers and completing a last-minute proposal to address the state's crumbling roads and bridges.

The session stretched nearly two weeks past when legislative leaders had optimistically estimated they would adjourn, winning a spot as one of the top five longest legislative sessions in Idaho's history. The longest session was in 2009, when it lasted 119 days.

Welcome to Idaho
Craig Cloutier / Flickr Creative Commons

A six-member joint panel has reached a compromise that would partially address Idaho's roads funding shortfall.

The new plan was passed unanimously by the Legislature's special joint conference committee on Friday afternoon after two full days of negotiations. The proposal would raise $95 million — far short of the $262 million annual shortfall the state has faced for road maintenance since 2010.

Idaho Capitol Dome
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

The Idaho House has overwhelmingly approved a plan to increase Idaho's grocery tax credit by $10 per person.

The House Revenue and Taxation Committee introduced the plan less than two hours earlier on Thursday morning. The House then voted 68-1 to send the proposal to the Senate.

House Majority Leader Mike Moyle from Star is backing the proposal. The legislation is estimated to cost almost $14 million in general fund dollars.

Stethescope, Health Care, Doctor, Medical
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Patients seeking care at the Veterans Affairs hospital in Boise have some of the longest waits for care in the entire VA system according to government data reviewed by The Associated Press.

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs statistics show that about 1 in every 16 patients seeking care during a six-month period at the Boise facility had to wait 31 days or longer. That compares to a national average of about 1 in 36 patients.

During that time period there were more patients waiting three months or longer for care in Boise than there were in 45 states.

This post was updated at 4:41 p.m.

A grand jury in Ada County has indicted Adam Dees, 22, with three counts of first degree murder in connection with the deaths of 80-year-old Theodore M. Welp, 77-year-old Delores (Elaine) Welp and their son, 52-year-old Thomas P. Welp.

Their bodies were found March 10 inside their home in the Boise foothills.

Ada County prosecutors say  it’s not yet clear if they’ll seek the death penalty.

Idaho Capitol Senate
Emilie Ritter Saunders / StateImpact Idaho

Legislation seeking to end a retirement bonus for state lawmakers who take high-paying state jobs at the end of their careers died Wednesday.

Senate State Affairs Chairman Curt McKenzie tells The Spokesman-Review that the bill will not receive a committee hearing.

The bill had already passed the House on a narrow 38-32 vote.

Some sportsmen's groups and conservationists say they're frustrated with votes by both of Idaho's Republican senators on a budget resolution the groups say is a first step to federal land transfer or sale.

U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch both voted late last month to establish a procedure for selling, exchanging or transferring to the states federal lands.

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