Associated Press

Your Health Idaho

Idahoans who buy their health insurance through the state-based health exchange will have more options but face higher costs while shopping for coverage for 2016.

The third year of sign-ups for coverage through begins Sunday. That means people have until Dec. 15 to sign up for insurance — or switch policies — to ensure coverage will begin on New Year's Day.

Pat Kelly, executive director of Your Health Idaho, says the exchange will offer more than 200 plans.

Boise State University

The Micron Foundation has given $25 million to Boise State University for the school's materials science program.

The Idaho Statesman reports that the sum is nearly half of the cost of the Center for Materials Research, which will house the program.

This is one in a string of gifts the Micron Foundation has made to launch Boise State's materials science program, which started in 2002 and now has 177 students.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Strengthening Idaho's system for purchasing goods and services comes down to careful training, good research, picking the right providers and following the law, some state employees told a group of lawmakers on Thursday.

The legislative interim committee is digging into Idaho's contracting system in the wake of several scandals, including an illegally awarded $60 million school broadband contract that was voided by a judge earlier this year.

newspaper, newspapers, stack
Elizabeth Sánchez / Flickr Creative Commons

Post. Co. President Jerry Brady says the family-owned business that includes Idaho Falls' Post Register and three other Idaho newspapers will be purchased by Minnesota-based Adams Publishing Group.

The Post Register reports that Brady in a letter to employees on Wednesday announced the sale expected to be finalized on Nov. 1. The other publications involved in the transaction are the Shelley Pioneer, Challis Messenger and Jefferson Star.

sage grouse, in flight, birds
Bryant Olsen / Flickr Creative Commons

Congress has failed to advance a measure that would have blocked new land-use plans meant to protect a wide-ranging Western bird, the greater sage grouse.

The sage grouse provision backed by Republican U.S. Rep. Rob Bishop of Utah had been approved in May by the House as part of a $612 billion defense policy bill.

Bishop's office said Wednesday the measure was left out of a House-Senate compromise on the defense bill.

sage grouse, wildlife
U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service / Flickr Creative Commons

The U.S. Interior Department says the greater sage grouse does not need federal protections across its 11-state Western range after some limits were put on energy development and other activities.

Tuesday's announcement signals that the Obama administration believes it has struck a balance to save the widespread, ground-dwelling birds from extinction without crippling the West's economy.

Kyle Green / Idaho Statesman

Treasure Valley school districts faced with a shortage of special education teachers are turning to alternative routes of certification as they struggle to fill positions.

The Idaho Statesman reports that the shortage has hit West Ada School District, the state's largest district, and Boise School District, one of Idaho's highest-paying districts. Council, a logging town near Boise with only 240 students, has also struggled to find special education teachers.

James Marvin Phelps / Flickr Creative Commons

Federal officials say a 150-square-mile area in southwestern Idaho will serve as a public lands sanctuary for non-reproducing wild horses from around the West that have nowhere else to go.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Monday announced the release of its approved Resource Management Plan for the Jarbidge Field Office.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Idaho's highest court says the state must enforce legislation banning lucrative instant horse racing terminals.

In a unanimous decision issued Thursday, the court ruled that Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter's veto of the legislation was invalid because he didn't complete it within the required five-day time span.

Governor C.L. “Butch” Otter issued the following statement today in reaction to the decision:

Idaho isn't known for attracting political powerhouses during presidential races. However, what it lacks in clout, it makes up for being home to one of the GOP's wealthiest donors.

Frank VanderSloot, founder and CEO of health care products company Melaleuca based in Idaho Falls, was a critical fundraiser for former Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney's campaign during the 2012 election. Now he's being courted by GOP presidential candidates eager to benefit from VanderSloot's successful fundraising reputation.

Stuart Rankin / Flickr Creative Commons

This year's catastrophic wildfire season has required more than 1 million gallons of fire retardant from the Boise Air Tanker Base, marking it the highest retardant delivery season the base has seen in nearly two decades.

Officials announced Tuesday that the base has typically delivered around 821,500 gallons over the past 10 years. However, the highest delivery year was in 1994, where firefighters pumped more than 1.6 million gallons of retardant into air tankers from the base.

Patti Haskins / Flickr Creative Commons

The city of Pocatello says the entire population of cats at its animal shelter will be euthanized to stop the spread of an upper respiratory infection outbreak.

The Pocatello Animal Shelter says officials last month noticed a number of cats at the shelter with symptoms. Animal services director Mary Remer says the cats did not respond to about a week of treatment.

After consulting with local veterinarians and the Idaho Humane Society, officials say they determined that all the cats were infected and that it was necessary to euthanize them.

Colette Cassinelli / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho public schools have received nearly $16 million after the state auctioned off cabins at Priest Lake.

The Spokesman-Review reports 35 lakefront cabin sites were purchased by the cabin owners for an average of $447,000 each at the Friday auction at the Coeur d'Alene Resort.

The highest-priced parcel in the auction went for $643,000, and the lowest-priced sold for $341,000.

Courtesy: J.R. Simplot Company

The U.S. Department of Agriculture has approved a potato genetically engineered to resist the pathogen that caused the Irish potato famine and that still damages crops.

Idaho-based J.R. Simplot Co. says that the Russet Burbank can also be stored at colder temperatures longer to reduce food waste.

The potato is the second generation of Simplot's Innate potatoes and also includes the first generation's reduced bruising and a greater reduction in a chemical produced at high temperatures that some studies have shown can cause cancer.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Republican presidential hopeful Rand Paul stopped in Boise as part of his Western tour to rally support and attract voters in a red-dominated state that is likely to have its pick of candidates during the GOP primary election.

Paul spoke to nearly 300 people at Boise State University on Thursday. He then left an afternoon rally in Nampa that's followed by a GOP barbeque in Idaho Falls.

The Kentucky senator's swing through the West has already included rallies in Alaska and Washington, with other stops planned in Utah and Wyoming.

Lacey Daley / Boise State Public Radio

A federal judge in North Dakota has blocked a new rule that would give the federal government jurisdiction over some state waters.

U.S. District Judge Ralph Erickson of North Dakota issued a temporary injunction Thursday against the Obama administration rule. The rule gives the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and Army Corps of Engineers authority to protect some streams, tributaries and wetlands under the Clean Water Act.

Idaho Department of Fish and Game

A nearly toothless, 25-year-old male grizzly bear that repeatedly broke into buildings in eastern Idaho has been euthanized.

The Idaho Department of Fish and Game in a statement Thursday says the grizzly was killed Monday near Island Park because it had become habituated to human-related foods.

Regional Wildlife Manager Curtis Hendricks says the bear made no direct threat to humans but its advanced age and decreasing ability to forage naturally increased the potential for conflict.

Flickr Creative Commons

A Canyon County high school student has been asked to remove a Confederate flag from his truck because administrators worry it is a gang symbol.

KIVI-TV reports that Cossa Academy student Jordan Beattie says he hung the flag from his truck after his girlfriend gave it to him as a gift. His mother Sherry Beattie says when he came to the Wilder school with the flag displayed he was called to the school office.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

This academic year marks the first that a remote Idaho school district will make guns available to trained staff members in the event that an active shooter is on the 300-student campus.

KBOI-TV reports Superintendent Greg Alexander says it can take 45 minutes or longer for emergency responders to reach the Garden Valley School District, prompting officials to buy four rifles, put them in gun safes and train a few staff members in how to use them.

Thomas M. Parsons / Flickr Creative Commons

Idaho officials aren't ruling out that new state parks could be named after private companies that give large donations or sponsorships, but a recently proposed set of rules would severely limit business' ability to acquire naming rights.

Earlier this year, Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter signed legislation permitting the Idaho Department of Parks and Recreation to pursue sponsorships with corporations to help offset slashed state revenue. Now department officials are finalizing sponsorship rules, which will need approval from the department board and Idaho Legislature.