Pocatello

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The Idaho Attorney General's office has notified an eastern Idaho teacher that the state Department of Education is not going to pursue disciplinary action against her teaching certificate.

The Idaho State Journal in a story on Wednesday reports that Deputy Attorney General Andrew J. Snook notified Laraine Cook the office reviewed her case and found insufficient basis to go forward.

Cook was dismissed as a substitute teacher in Pocatello Chubbuck School District 25 in October over a photograph posted on her Facebook page showing her fiance touching her bikini-clad chest.

Mat79 / Flickr Creative Commons

H.J. Heinz Co. is closing three plants in North America and cutting 1,350 jobs in an effort to operate more efficiently.

The food maker said Thursday that it will close facilities in South Carolina, Idaho and Canada over the next six to eight months.

KPVI reports 410 people will be laid off from the Pocatello, Idaho facility.

Museum of Clean, plungers
Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

An Idaho cleaning entrepreneur's museum celebrating his industry's not-so-spotless history is also green.

The Idaho Division of Environmental Quality gave the Museum of Clean in Pocatello its "2013 Pollution Prevention Champion Award."

The parent company of a polysilicon manufacturing plant in eastern Idaho has filed for bankruptcy in Pocatello federal court.

The Idaho State Journal reports Hoku Corp. made the Chapter 7 filing Tuesday. It put the company's debt at nearly $1 billion.

Hoku Corp. is the parent company of Hoku Materials, which built the $700 million plant in Pocatello.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

After more than six hours of public testimony and debate, Pocatello's city council passed a non-discrimination ordinance early Friday morning. The new law protects lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender [LGBT] people from housing, employment and public accommodation discrimination.

This makes the eastern Idaho city the latest in a wave of local governments to vote for a so-called "add the words" law, in absence of the state Legislature's inaction. Currently there is no statewide protection of this kind.

Peter Patau / Flickr Creative Commons

Derrick Martinez had been with Blick’s Phosphate Conversion for a year and a half. Blick’s, which is based in Kansas, subcontracts with Idaho’s J. R. Simplot Company in Pocatello to help make a phosphate-based fertilizer. While Martinez was working in his company’s mobile production trailer at the Simplot site last weekend, something went wrong.

A man working at the Simplot fertilizer plant west of Pocatello was hospitalized in critical condition after apparently being exposed to ammonia over the weekend.

The Power County Sheriff's Office says 23-year-old Derrick E. Martinez of Garden City, Kansas, was found unconscious in a Blick's Phosphate Conversion mobile testing trailer on Simplot property Saturday afternoon.

He was taken to the hospital in Pocatello and then flown to a hospital in Salt Lake City, where he was listed in critical condition on Monday.

Efforts to pass more local gay rights laws are moving ahead in Idaho. A city councilor in Coeur d'Alene plans to introduce an ordinance later this month. And in Pocatello, a failed ban on discrimination against gay, lesbian and transgender people is getting a second chance.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

An ordinance to ban discrimination against gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people failed in the city council of Pocatello Thursday night. The close vote was a setback for gay rights advocates.

Pocatello Mayor Brian Blad cast the deciding no vote, making it four against, three in favor. The ordinance would have made it a misdemeanor to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Those voting no said they didn't reach their decision easily.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

Thursday, the city council in Pocatello is expected to vote on whether to make it illegal to discriminate on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. It’s one of several cities in Idaho that have taken up the cause of gay rights – an issue the Idaho Legislature has so far resisted. But even some gay rights supporters wonder if the local ordinance would change anything.

Jessica Robinson / Northwest News Network

A city in the heart of Idaho's Mormon country held a four-hour public hearing Thursday night on whether to ban discrimination against gays and lesbians. A growing number of cities in Idaho are adopting local rules that protect sexual orientation and gender identity.

Parents and grandparents spoke about the fears they have for their gay or lesbian family members. Gloria Mayer said she's been hiding her identity for years.

“I am 63 years old ... and I'm gay," she said. "That is the first time I have said that publicly.”

Pocatello is on track to become the state’s second city to ban discrimination based on sexual orientation. The city council there is drafting an ordinance to protect gays and lesbians in matters of housing and employment.

Unlike neighboring Washington and Oregon, Idaho does not list sexual orientation or gender identity as a protected class, like race and religion.

A sea of volunteers clad in yellow vests swarmed through the area that burned near Pocatello Saturday to help clean up the area.  Some 2,000 volunteers helped. The Charlotte Fire burned more than 1,000 acres and destroyed 66 homes, damaging many others. 

Volunteers came from around Eastern Idaho to cut down burned trees and help get construction crews access to damaged houses. Seventy property owners registered for help on Saturday.

Pocatello Fire Ruled An Accident

Jul 16, 2012
Aaron Kunz / EarthFix

The fire that burned 66 homes in Pocatello in June was human caused. Bannock County Sheriff Lorin Nielsen says whoever started the Charlotte Fire doesn’t even know.

The sheriff believes there was no criminal intent. Nielsen says a spark from a dragging chain on the road could have started it. He says this fire could have been prevented by being aware and taking precautions with such dry conditions.

Pocatello Fire Victims Get Help From Community

Jul 9, 2012
Aaron Kunz / Earthfix

As wildfires continue to burn in parts of Idaho and elsewhere in the West, an eastern Idaho town is reeling from a devastating fire that destroyed nearly 70 homes a week ago.

The Charlotte Fire took homeowners in Pocatello by surprise. Steve Leaman lost everything.

"By the time I got to the cabin, I heard this noise and I thought 'it was the fire plane, it’s the fire plane - my cabin is saved'," he says.  "It wasn’t a plane, it was a wall of fire come off that hill rolling like a wave off the ocean.”

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