Associated Press

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Former Idaho Gov. Phil Batt is engaged to be married to Francee Reilly, of Boise, later this summer.

Batt declined to provide The Associated Press information on when or where the wedding will take place, but added those details will be released eventually. Batt also declined to say when the two became engaged.

The 88-year-old Batt was Idaho's governor for one term from 1995-1999.

In September, Batt's first wife, Jacque Batt, died of natural causes. The two had been married for 66 years.

The College of Western Idaho has purchased a 10-acre lot of land at $8.8 million, twice the value assigned to it for tax purposes, but officials say they did not overpay.

The Idaho Statesman reports that the community college's board chairwoman Mary Niland said Thursday that she if she could go back she would have looked at the tax assessment and asked for an appraisal.

Board vice president Guy Hurlbutt described the lot's location as "superb" and did not think an assessment would have made much difference.

Adam Cotterell / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter is calling lawmakers back to Boise for a special session May 18 to address a failed child support bill rejected during the 2015 legislative session.

A House panel killed the bill the last day of the session over concerns it could require the state to enforce rulings made in other countries under Islamic law.

The governor said Wednesday he's met with legislative leadership to find a solution that lawmakers in both chambers will approve.

Aaron Maizlish / Flickr

Federal officials have announced more than $4 million in projects in four states as part of a wildfire-fighting strategy to protect a wide swath of intermountain West sagebrush country that supports cattle ranching and is home to a struggling bird species.

Interior Secretary Sally Jewell said Wednesday that the U.S. Bureau of Land Management will use the money in Idaho, Utah, Nevada and Oregon to counter wildfire threats, invasive grasses and juniper trees encroaching in sagebrush habitat.

At least five prominent female Idaho attorneys who applied for the U.S. District Court bench opening haven't been interviewed by the state's two U.S. senators while four men who applied for the job have.

The Spokesman Review reports in a story on Tuesday that U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson, U.S. Magistrate Candy Dale and Boise attorney Terri Pickens Manweiler are among the attorneys who say they completed questionnaires made available by Republican U.S. Sens. Mike Crapo and Jim Risch.

The Energy Department has awarded grants to scientists in five western states to develop research for a national lab aimed at tapping hard-to-get-to geothermal energy they say someday could provide enough power to supply 100 million homes.

Lynn Orr, energy undersecretary for science, announced Monday research teams in Nevada, California, Idaho, Oregon and Utah also will share the $2 million for the first phase of the project.

USGS Map

Three earthquakes up to magnitude-4.2 and nearly a half-dozen aftershocks have jolted northern Idaho, with residents from Washington state to Montana saying they felt the tremors.

A Bonner County emergency dispatcher in Sandpoint said Friday morning that no injuries or damage were reported.

The U.S. Geological Survey says a magnitude-4.1 quake hit first, around 7:32 p.m. Thursday. It was centered 30 miles northeast of Hayden.

The Idaho Racing Commission has suspended all future approval of lucrative slot-like machines known as instant horse racing terminals.

The commission unanimously issued its moratorium today. Their decision comes after Gov. "Butch" Otter vetoed legislation that would have banned all instant horse racing machines in Idaho and instructed the commission to enforce the suspension.

Known as instant horse racing, the machines allow bettors to place wages on old horse races with no identifiable information. Idaho lawmakers approved legalizing the machines in 2013.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter has vetoed a bill that would have required Idaho sign language interpreters to get a state license.

The plan aimed to stop unqualified interpreters from causing miscommunications in important situations, like emergency rooms or legal proceedings.

But Otter said Wednesday that the plan would have created a strain on already limited resources. Otter added that he will work with stakeholders to make a policy for certified interpreters in the future.

Lt. Gov. Brad Little had supported the bill, voting yes to break a 17-17 tie in the Senate.

Some of Idaho's conservative Republicans have raised concerns this year about local Muslim populations and the potential influence of Sharia law in the state.

Those fears prompted local GOP events and a special lawmaker luncheon, while culminating in the decision by some lawmakers to kill a child support enforcement bill. That threatened the state's ability to enforce more than 150,000 child support payments.

Historians say this isn't the first time Idaho's government has focused concern on a specific religious group.

Frankie Barnhill / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho officials have approved a plan to protect habitat for greater sage grouse on state endowment lands as part an effort to avoid a federal listing of the bird under the Endangered Species Act.

Gov. C.L. "Butch" Otter and four other statewide elected officials on the Idaho Land Board on Tuesday voted 5-0 to adopt the 82-page Greater Sage-Grouse Conservation Plan that details conservation measures developed by the Idaho Department of Lands.

Gage Skidmore / Flickr Creative Commons

U.S. Republican Congressman Raul Labrador involved himself in the fallout of failed Idaho legislation that would have brought the state into compliance with federal child support rules and an international treaty.

Labrador says he doesn't have a position on the issue. However, the tea party-favorite told The Associated Press that he reviewed an April 12 editorial sent out by a key lawmaker after the vote.

Scott Graf / Boise State Public Radio

Federal authorities have made public the final management plan for six wilderness areas and 16 wild and scenic river segments in southwestern Idaho.

The U.S. Bureau of Land Management on Monday published on the Federal Register the Owyhee Canyonlands Wilderness and Wild & Scenic Rivers Management Plan.

Idaho State Police

State police will build a new headquarters in southeast Idaho sometime next year.

The Idaho State Journal reports that the state legislature authorized $5.4 million to construct a new 24,000-square-foot facility in Pocatello.

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service

The largest wolf pack known to exist in the West roams in northwest Wyoming.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service reports 24 wolves in the Lava Mountain Pack.

That is nine more than any other pack surveyed this year in Wyoming, Montana, Idaho, Washington or Oregon.

The Lava Mountain Pack roams a hill country about 30 miles northeast of Jackson.

Fish and Wildlife Service wolf coordinator Mike Jimenez tells the Jackson Hole News & Guide that the pack had two litters of pups in 2014.

job fair
Emilie Ritter Saunders / Boise State Public Radio

Idaho's unemployment rate fell to 3.8 percent in March with 5,400 workers finding jobs in the largest one-month increase on record.

The Idaho Department of Labor in a news release Friday says total employment in the state also set a record by going above 757,000 for the first time.

The agency says the state's unemployment remained at a seven-year low as businesses expanded payrolls.

The agency also says the percentage of working-age adults with jobs or looking for work rose to 63.5 percent.

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.

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.

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