News

A man convicted of burning down two churches has been sentenced to 85 years to life in prison.

The Idaho Press-Tribune reports Bradley Thomasson was sentenced Monday after a jury convicted the Emmett resident in March of the arson of the Community Bible Church and First Baptist Church in April 2013. Thomasson was 41 at the time of the crime.

Both churches had been significantly damaged by water, smoke and heat. Damage costs totaled more than $2 million. No one had been injured in the incidents.

Sally Jewell, sage grouse
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

The National Interagency Fire Center in Boise says a wet spring reduced the likelihood of wildfires during June over much of the nation, but the risk is above normal in drought-stricken California.

Hawaii and parts of the Southwest and Alaska are also at above-normal risk.

As the summer progresses, fire danger is expected to increase in the Northwest, Georgia and the Carolinas.

Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack and Interior Secretary Sally Jewell will discuss wildfire threats and the nationwide outlook for the wildfire season Tuesday in Denver.

Samantha Wright / Boise State Public Radio

This story includes graphic descriptions and language that may not be suitable for young audiences; some may find this content offensive.

Police Detective Tim Brady sits at his desk, surrounded by computer screens. He flips on a monitor and an instant-chat session is on the screen, this one recorded a few years ago. It is one of thousands of hours the Idaho Internet Crimes Against Children unit, (ICAC) has spent online.

“Within less than a minute I’m bombarded with all these people that think they’re speaking with a 13-year-old girl,” Brady says.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Concordia University's new Boise law school has been given provisional approval from the American Bar Association after nearly a yearlong delay.

The approval announced Monday means that students graduating from the law school will be eligible to take the bar exam in most states — a step that is required for those who want to become licensed practicing attorneys.

Jerry McFarland / Flickr

Federal authorities have released their final recovery plan for Snake River sockeye salmon, a species that teetered on the brink of extinction in the early 1990s.

Authorities say the plan released Monday by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration will create a self-sustaining population of sockeye over the next 50 to 100 years.

The run was listed as endangered in 1991, kicking off a hatchery program that at first had only a handful of returning fish to propagate the species.

SamPac / Flickr

State government would help fund resource programs for the homeless if state Sen. Lori Den Hartog, R-Meridian, had her way, especially as Ada County looks for solutions to homelessness.

The Idaho Statesman reports (http://bit.ly/1AVOiwb ) that Boise Director of Community Partnerships Diana Lachiondo says the city is working with local hospitals and Ada County on a collaboration that would bring a housing first model to the Treasure Valley.

J. Stephen Conn / Flickr

An Idaho event scheduled as an alternative to West Virginia's Bridge Day is in jeopardy.

The Charleston Gazette reports some residents of Twin Falls, Idaho, have asked BASE jumpers to cancel the Idaho event after a series of BASE jumping accidents there and elsewhere last month left three people dead.

Bryant Olsen / Flickr

Environmental groups have filed a lawsuit to stop a forest project in western Idaho that they say will harm habitat needed by federally protected bull trout.

The Alliance for the Wild Rockies, Idaho Sporting Congress and Native Ecosystems Council filed the lawsuit Thursday in U.S. District Court in Boise against the U.S. Forest Service.

The groups say the agency violated environmental laws by approving the Lost Creek-Boulder Creek Landscape Restoration Project in September without proper environmental analysis.

Idaho National Guard

Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl, the soldier who left his post in Afghanistan and was held by the Taliban for five years, is asking a military appellate court to disqualify the general with broad discretion in his case.

Bergdahl's attorney, Eugene Fidell, says Bergdahl filed the request Friday in the U.S. Army Court of Criminal Appeals in Washington.

Bergdahl wants the court to disqualify Gen. Mark Milley because he has a personal interest in being confirmed as the next Army chief of staff.

There are more delays in the case of an Idaho man who is charged in last month's fatal shooting of a Coeur d'Alene police officer.

First District Magistrate Barry Watson said Friday he will reschedule the preliminary hearing for Jonathan Daniel Renfro for July 22.

Renfro is charged in the shooting of Police Sgt. Greg Moore.

The Spokesman-Review says the judge also pushed back to June 24 a hearing on several motions in the case. He had been scheduled to hear those motions Friday.

Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

Historic Idaho City is dealing with the loss of five businesses just as its lucrative summer tourism season was getting underway. Officials say a fire started in Calamity Jane’s restaurant on Main Street sometime before 3 a.m. Friday. By the time firefighters extinguished the flames, most of a city block was ruined along with four other businesses. 

mcc.gov / Millennium Challenge Coporation

An Idaho engineer is on a federal trade mission in Africa right now, promoting U.S. companies and helping to bring electricity to people in Malawi and Tanzania. Hailey-based Power Engineers consults in a variety of engineering fields, including energy generation and delivery. Chris Garvin works out of the company's Meridian office, but he spoke to KBSX from Malawi this week. He says he’s no rookie when it comes to working in Africa.

Darin Oswald / Idaho Statesman

Officials say a large fire on Main Street in a small southwest Idaho city has destroyed at least five businesses.

Officials say the fire started in the early morning hours on Friday in Idaho City and was mostly extinguished by 6:30 a.m.

There have been no reports of injuries.

Idaho City is about 35 miles northeast of Boise and is popular among summer tourists.

The cause of the fire hasn't been determined and no damage estimates have been made.

Chris Butler / Idaho Statesman

Students at Concordia Law School in Boise could soon find out whether they'll be able to graduate and take the state bar exam. The American Bar Association (ABA) is meeting in Minneapolis today and tomorrow – and Concordia's provisional approval is on the agenda.

Neil Weightman / Flickr

A dog in Ada County has tested positive for plague. It’s the first case – human or canine – of the bacterial disease since officials reported an outbreak in ground squirrels south of Boise two weeks ago.

Epidemiologist Sarah Correll is with the Central District Health Department. She says a preliminary test came back positive, which means the dog likely has the plague. Results from a second test will come back next week.

The Army says it has pushed back the date for a preliminary hearing for Bowe Bergdahl, the sergeant who left his post in Afghanistan and was held by the Taliban for five years.

Bergdahl is charged with desertion and misbehavior before the enemy.

His hearing had been scheduled for July 8.

But the Army says that at the request of Bergdahl's lawyers, the hearing was put off until Sept. 17 at Joint Base San Antonio-Fort Sam Houston in Texas.

His preliminary hearing is similar to a civilian grand jury. From there, it could be referred to a court-martial for trial.

Jimmy Emerson DVM / Flickr Creative Commons

The Intermountain Fair Housing Council (IFHC) is investigating alleged discrimination by Pocatello landlords. An article last month in the Idaho State Journal newspaper quoted multiple Pocatello landlords saying they charge higher deposits and advanced rent to Idaho State University students from Middle Eastern countries.

Adam Wright / Treefort Music Fest

It's official: 2015 was a record-breaking year for Treefort Music Fest. In their fourth year, organizers of the five-day long indie event met their goal of breaking even. Sales Director Drew Lorona – who helped found Treefort four years ago – says that financial success ensures the festival will continue in 2016.

"It's the first time that we've had the festival generate enough income on its own as a functioning business to kickstart the next year's festival," Lorona says. 

The Peregrine Fund/Bosch WebCam

The five kestrel chicks made famous by the Peregrine Fund’s Kestrel Cam will be banded Thursday as they get ready to leave the nest. Banding is when scientists put bracelet-like metal bands around the birds' legs to help monitor them in the future.

The Coeur d'Alene Tribe is asking the Idaho Supreme Court to order the state to enforce legislation banning instant horse racing terminals.

The tribe filed the petition with the state's highest court on Wednesday, contending that Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's veto of the legislation was invalid because the governor didn't complete the veto within the required five-day time span.

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