News

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. 

Antonio R. Villaraigosa / Flickr Creative Commons

Today, April 20th, is a bit of a holiday for marijuana enthusiasts. It's a day when they get together to smoke what has traditionally been an illegal drug. That on its own is not necessarily news. 

But it is the backdrop for this notion: Idaho is seeing a sharp decline in the number of new police recruits, in part, because it's easier than ever to smoke pot legally

Thomas Hart / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho officials on Tuesday voted to use $280,000 of the state's Constitutional Defense Fund to pay legal fees for the opposing side after losing a federal court decision involving work unions.

The 4-0 vote by the Idaho Board of Examiners follows a court order in December.

Idaho lawmakers in 2011 approved the Fairness in Contracting Act making it illegal for unions to subsidize union contract bids to make them competitive with non-union contractor bids.

Jeff Smith / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal authorities are considering reversing an 80-year-old decision and designating the Salmon River as navigable.

The Lewiston Tribune reports the proposed change would add to the list of regulated activities on the river.

People currently need a Clean Water Act permit to use the river when discharging dredge or fill material.

U.S. Army Corps of Engineers Brig. Gen. Scott A. Spellmon is expected to make a decision on the change in May.

AP

Anyone who knows 20th century American history knows about Senator Joseph McCarthy and his hunt for Communists in the U.S. And anyone who knows about Idaho history and politics knows about Democratic Senator Frank Church. But what you may not know is that McCarthy's fall contributed to Church's rise.

That’s the theory Marc Johnson is presenting during two lectures Tuesday at Boise State’s Osher Institute. Johnson is a former journalist, adviser to Idaho Governor Cecil Andrus and a long-time behind-the-scenes political player. Now he writes about Idaho and U.S. history.

Angie Smith

Los Angeles-based photographer Angie Smith first became curious about Idaho’s refugee population five years ago during visits with her family in Boise.

“I wondered why are they coming to Idaho," says Smith, "how do they get here, what are their lives like once they have arrived and are in the resettlement process. I just had a lot of questions.”

RTDNA

Boise State Public Radio's KBSX newsroom has won five regional 2016 Edward R. Murrow Awards. The awards, presented annually by the Radio Television Digital News Association, were announced Tuesday.

Boise State Public Radio's entries were judged alongside submissions from Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington.

“I’m especially pleased with this year’s list of winners,” News Director Scott Graf says. “Every single member of our news staff was involved in the winning entries. These awards symbolize KBSX’s dedication to telling important and interesting stories.”

Craters of the Moon National Monument / Flickr Creative Commons

The National Parks Service (NPS) is offering free admission to all parks, preserves, monuments and historical sites through April 24. The annual week of freebies has added meaning this spring: the NPS is celebrating its centennial in 2016. 

Dave Thomas / Flickr Creative Commons

After the deadly white-nose syndrome was found in a bat in the state of Washington, Idaho is stepping up protections against the fungus.

Idaho Fish and Game says it’s working to prevent the fungus from coming here, while at the same time, making preparations in case it does show up, like creating an inter-agency response plan for Idaho.

The Department says there are 14 bat species living in the state. At least half hibernate here. White-nose syndrome is known to kill hibernating bats.

Idaho Transportation Department

He’s the record-holder in Idaho for state service; 57 years at the Idaho Transportation Department. And Terry Jacobsen says he’s planning to break that record. He wants to keep going until he hits his Diamond anniversary; 60 years working for the state of Idaho.

“I was a greenhorn when I started,” Jacobsen says. That was April 14, 1959. They didn’t even have calculators then, so he had to use a slide rule, or “slip stick,” as he calls them. He’s watched so many things change and advance over the years.  "It boggles my mind to think about them,” he says.

Sean Maxwell / Flickr Creative Commons

If you're looking for something to do Saturday and have an interest in eco-friendly homes, you should consider checking out the straw bale house being built in East Boise.

Aubrey Wieber / YouTube

A Republican central committeeman covertly filmed the head of Idaho's GOP in an effort to bolster his claims that a secret society had been formed to oust certain members from party positions. The video didn't reveal direct evidence of a secret society, but did show the top GOP official criticizing prominent Republicans.

The Post Register reports that Bonneville GOP Chairman Doyle Beck released footage of party Chairman Steve Yates on Thursday.

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