News

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

An Idaho high school senior made waves earlier this month for a pointed editorial taking aim at Superintendent of Public Instruction-elect Sherri Ybarra.

Harmony Soto, 17, decided to plagiarize Boise Weekly writer George Prentice after Ybarra narrowly won November's election -- even after Ybarra was accused of plagiarizing her opponent's campaign website.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Rep. Raul Labrador, R-ID, is optimistic the changing makeup of the U.S. Congress will lead to the passage of an immigration reform bill in 2015. But the lawmaker isn't as optimistic about that legislation actually becoming law.

"I think we're gonna have legislation that passes the House and the Senate that the American people will like," Labrador says. "The question is whether this President will be willing to actually sign that legislation."

The College of Idaho has received a $2.45 million grant spread over five years for biomedical research.

The school in southwest Idaho in a statement Monday says that about a third of the money will be used to investigate the medical properties of sagebrush.

A similar amount will be used to research small molecule inhibitors that could be used to fight pathogenic microorganisms.

The school says the rest of the money will be used for other research projects.

The money comes from the National Institutes of Health's IDeA Network of Biomedical Research Excellence.

Tony Morris / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service is asking Indian tribes, government agencies and others to submit information about conservation efforts for the greater sage grouse.

The service said Monday it needs the best data possible to make a decision on whether the bird warrants protection under the Endangered Species Act.

Congress has barred the federal government from spending money on rules to protect the bird, but the Fish and Wildlife Service says it is still bound by a court order to reach a decision by September on whether a listing is warranted.

tdlucas5000 / Flickr Creative Commons

Farmers in Idaho say hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of beef, potatoes, apples, cheese and other products are languishing in storage because of problems at West Coast ports. The state’s agriculture officials are trying to pressure dock workers and their bosses to resolve a labor dispute and resume normal operations.

Idaho potato farmers say the port delays have prompted some overseas customers to cancel their orders altogether.

Jim Mertz of the Symms Fruit Company in Caldwell says only about 20 percent of their shipments this fall made it out of port on schedule.

Custer County officials in central Idaho say there's no damage from an earthquake that shook the area Monday morning.

The U.S. Geological Survey says the 3.7-magnitude temblor occurred about 10:20 a.m. and was located about a mile east of Challis and about a mile deep.

Linda Lumpkin of the Custer County Sheriff's Office says the quake was widely felt among residents in the sparsely populated area.

But she says residents are used to the ground shaking after a swarm of quakes up to 4.9 in magnitude last spring that peaked in mid-April.

Deborah Ferguson, gay marriage, lawyer
Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

A federal judge has ruled that Idaho must pay more than $400,000 to the lawyers who successfully fought to overturn the state's ban on gay marriage.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Candy Dale on Friday awarded an amount that is about 10 percent less than what the lawyers requested.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and attorney Christopher Rich argued for an award of little more than $200,000. They said that the six lawyers working on the case took too much time and charged too much in hourly fees.

The lead attorney billed $400 an hour and recorded more than 600 hours.

Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

By various measures, Idaho is a generous state. Wallet Hub finds Idaho is the third-most generous state when it comes to charitable giving. The Chronicle of Philanthropy finds Idahoans give more than residents of every surrounding state except Utah. Idahoans are also eager to give their time.

Gene Han / Flickr

Idaho’s unemployment rate dropped in November to its lowest rate in nearly seven years, in part because the labor force is shrinking.

Idaho Department of Labor spokesman Bob Fick says November's 3.9 percent jobless rate was down two-tenths of a point from October.

“There’s usually a decline in jobs from October to November and that decline was less than in the past and there continue to be people who left the labor force,” says Fick. “So the combination of steady jobs and lower labor force was responsible for driving down the unemployment rate under four percent.”

Dept. of Defense

U.S. officials have finished an investigation into how and why Army Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl disappeared from his base in Afghanistan. Bergdahl was held captive for five years by the Taliban.

The Pentagon says Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is expected to be briefed on the report as early as today.

Terry McCombs / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho is doing a poor job of preparing educators to teach to Common Core standards, according to a Washington, D.C.-based nonprofit.

Last week, the National Council on Teacher Quality gave Idaho a D+ grade for teacher preparedness. The average state grade was a C; only 10 states graded out lower than Idaho.

The State Board of Education has endorsed legislation that would set Idaho teacher pay based on performance standards and experience.

Board member Richard Westerberg says the state needs higher teacher salaries, and the plan would allow district to reward their best teachers.

Beginning teachers would see salaries increase from about $31,000 a year to about $40,000 a year over the next five years, and top-level teachers would see their base salaries rise from $47,000 to $58,000.

Ballet Idaho

Ballet Idaho and the Boise Philharmonic are bringing live music back to the Christmastime favorite “The Nutcracker.

Ballet Idaho’s Artistic Director Peter Anastos is also the choreographer of Pyotr Ilyich Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker." He says the two organizations have worked together in the past, but a financial crunch last year meant Ballet Idaho had to use a CD for the performance.

grizzly, bear, yellowstone
Neal Herbert / Yellowstone National Park | Flickr

An advocacy group has petitioned the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to reintroduce grizzly bears into the Selway-Bitterroot area of Idaho and Montana.

The Center for Biological Diversity said Thursday that it hopes to revive a stalled recovery plan for the animals that was finalized in 2000.

The group says having bears in the Selway-Bitterroot would help connect grizzlies in Yellowstone National Park with other populations of the animals in Montana and Idaho. It says the 16-million-acre area could support 300 to 600 bears.

TBiley / Flickr Creative Commons

Greek yogurt maker Chobani says a newly installed reverse-osmosis filtration system at its south-central Idaho plant will reduce the company's consumption of water by 20 percent.

The Times-News reports that the company is installing the new machine to help reduce complaints from its residential neighbors.

Last year, Hollister residents complained about increased truck traffic and odors coming from a local farm that recycled the company's acid whey, which is a waste product of the yogurt plant.

Gay Syrian Refugee Finds A Home In Idaho

Dec 18, 2014
Jodie Martinson / Boise State Public Radio

The US Department of State pledged to lead the world in accepting refugees from Syria at a meeting in Geneva this month. The organization says it is currently reviewing about 9,000 UNHCR referrals from Syria and is receiving approximately a thousand new referrals each month. A Boise refugee support organization anticipates many of those people will come to Idaho. 

Bogus Basin

Bogus Basin will open Friday despite anemic snow accumulation on the mountain north of Boise.

The ski resort plans to open limited terrain to skiers and snowboarders. Bogus reports 13 inches of snow at its base.

"We’re ready and very excited to welcome the community up the mountain to have fun enjoying early-season skiing and boarding,” says Bogus General Manager Alan Moore.

New research could have implications for cattle and sheep grazing in the habitat of a ground-dwelling bird that environmentalists say needs federal protection across the Rocky Mountain region.

A study published in the December issue of Wildlife Biology examines the relationship between nesting success by the greater sage grouse and the height of grass nearby.

Environmental groups including WildEarth Guardians say the study is cause for concern about livestock grazing in sage grouse habitat. Others say grazing can improve habitat for sage grouse.

Butch Otter
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter says the U.S. Supreme Court should wait until it receives arguments from Idaho before deciding a case involving gay marriage in the United States.

In documents filed with the nation's highest court, lawyers for Otter said waiting for Idaho's case would help the Supreme Court resolve "the marriage-litigation wave in all respects."

Russell Heistuman / Flickr Creative Commons

The Coeur d'Alene City Council says guns will now permitted at public events like parades.

The Coeur d'Alene Press reports the council unanimously made the change Tuesday night, changing an ordinance prohibited guns within 1,000 feet of a parade. City Attorney Mike Gridley says the rule was originally created to avoid conflict in the community when the white supremacist group Aryan Nations was still headquartered in the region. The Aryan Nations compound closed after lawsuit brought by the Southern Poverty Law Center bankrupted the group in 2000.

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