Wednesday, June 23, 2010

A New Eye in the Sky for Smoke Eaters

Posted By on Wed, Jun 23, 2010 at 3:03 PM

Its price tag is $1.5 million. There are only two in the world. And one of them will spend this fire season (through the end of September) in Boise.

The U.S. Forest Service gave Citydesk a look at the Bell 209-Cobra helicopter, a state-of-the-art firefighting tool. The "ship" is outfitted with specialized equipment for command and control, intelligence gathering and mapping. Traditionally used in theaters of war, the retro-fitted chopper features multiple infrared video systems with a multi-channel microwave transmitter capable of down-linking color or infrared camera images to a portable microwave receiver. The dual cockpit of the Cobra will house a pilot and specially trained firefighter to relay real-time firefighting strategies to the full team, both on the ground and in the air.

The Intermountain Region of the Forest Service is hosting the Cobra which will be based at the Lucky Peak Helibase off of Highway 21, northwest of Boise. The chopper is expected to be dispatched throughout the Region as the 2010 fire season escalates. Currently, National Interagency Fire officials have deployed approximately 50 Idaho firefighters to assist the effort in battling a wildfire, which has burned 14,000 acres north of Flagstaff, Ariz.

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Breakfast of Champions

Posted By on Wed, Jun 23, 2010 at 1:04 PM

The United States is advancing to the second round of the World Cup.

Forward Landon Donovan scored the winning goal in the 91st minute of play to defeat Algeria 1-0 in one of the biggest goals in U.S. soccer history. It's the first World Cup win in eight years for the United States. The team also won their group (C) for first time since 1930. Fans filled Boise's Ha'Penny Bridge Pub early today for a breakfast of eggs, bacon, Guinness and big-screen action.

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You won't need to play hooky to watch the next game, presuming you don't work weekends. Team USA takes on the runner-up from group D this Saturday morning. That could be Ghana, Germany or Serbia. Game time: 12:30 p.m. mountain daylight time.

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World Cup of Coffee

Posted By on Wed, Jun 23, 2010 at 10:54 AM

Eggs, bacon, coffee, Guinness, and a side order of World Cup soccer. There was a full house this morning at the Ha'Penny Bridge Pub in downtown Boise. They opened the doors at 7 a.m. and soccer enthusiasts from across the Treasure Valley piled in. The usual breakfast fare was on the menu, and yes, they served beer before 10 a.m.

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Close to 100 folks were at Ha'Penny watching USA play Algeria in an attempt to advance to the next round of the tournament in South Africa. They were also keeping another eye on the match between England and Slovenia
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These photos were taken as the USA was tied with Algeria 0-0 in the second half. England had taken the lead over Slovenia, also in the second half.
Team USA needed a win or a tie to advance, and thanks to a drive down field by midfielder Landon Donovan, Team USA took the match 1-0 against Algeria.
The English chaps will also advance after leading Slovenia by a single point to win.

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Boise LGBT Pride Grows Bigger Every Year

Posted By on Wed, Jun 23, 2010 at 10:47 AM

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Nearly 1,500 people gathered on the steps of the Statehouse on June 19 to celebrate the 17th annual Pride, the one day a year when LGBT friends and allies are free to openly express pride in themselves, their families and their community.

A short rally opened the day’s events. Monica Hopkins, Executive Director of ACLU Idaho was the keynote speaker (click here to watch Hopkins' speech). Hopkins addressed a diverse crowd that included everyone from young families to senior citizens and who came from as far as Idaho Falls and Portland. She emphasized the need for people to “come out” and “work diligently on public policy issues.” With the recent closing of the Idaho Women’s Network and Idaho Equality, that leaves the ACLU as the only statewide organization working directly on LGBT public policy issues.

After the rally, the mile-long parade—led by the hallmark rainbow balloon arch, followed by an 80-foot tall rainbow flag—marched to the festivities at Ann Morrison Park. Boise Pride’s executive director, Tom Thompson, estimated overall attendance at 7,500. At a cost of $30,000 to put on, early estimates indicate a small profit from the festival as a result of the first ever $1 gate fee. Some festival goers complained about the fence that encircled the crowd but Thompson says it was required for liability and security issues and provides accurate attendance figures to prospective sponsors and vendors.

Over the years, protesters have always been present, carrying signs and chanting, but for the first time in Boise Pride history no anti-gay protesters showed. Many view that as a positive sign of progress. BW talked to a number of people for the video below, asking what people think are the most pressing issues facing Idaho’s LGBT community and how Boise compares to other communities in terms of being LGBT friendly.

Credit: Interview by Jody May-Chang, video filming and editing by Tyler Bush.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

Alternate Energy Approaches Next Nuclear Plant Hurdle

Posted By on Tue, Jun 22, 2010 at 4:26 PM

An Idaho company is moving closer in its effort to build a nuclear power plant in Payette County.

Alternate Energy Holdings, Inc. officially filed a rezone application on Tuesday, June 22, asking that 5,000 acres of land near New Plymouth be converted from agriculture to industrial use. In April, Payette County Commissioners unanimously approved a change to their county's comprehensive plan, opening the door for a rezone application.

A slate of hearings are expected to attract opponents and proponents of the plant, which Alternate Energy claims will create 5,000 jobs. Dates have yet to be announced, but check back to Citydesk for updates.

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Eagle's Nest Still Without Mayor

Posted By on Tue, Jun 22, 2010 at 3:17 PM

Tonight, the Eagle City Council will once again attempt to find a way to choose a mayor. It's been nearly half a year since Phil Bandy resigned the position.

Since then, three of four members of Eagle's City Council (John Grasser, Mike Huffaker and Al Shoushtarian) have all indicated that they should be mayor. Add them to the list of 15 Eagle residents who have been deemed eligible candidates. The one councilman not interested in the job, Norm Semanko, introduced a resolution calling for a special election this November, but the council couldn't agree on that either (it died at the last meeting of the council two weeks ago on a 2-2 vote). The council takes up the issue again at its meeting tonight at 6:30 p.m.

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Can Idaho Spare Some Change...in Population?

Posted By on Tue, Jun 22, 2010 at 1:54 PM

The next time someone asks you the population of Idaho, give them this number: 1,545,801.

The U.S. Census Bureau released its latest statistics today, indicating the Gem State grew 1.2 percent from 2008 to 2009. Boise eked up a bit (0.45 percent) to 205,707. Nampa grew (1.09 percent) to 81,241. Meridian bumped up (3.22 percent) to 68,516 (largest growth in the state) and Eagle grew (1.4 percent) to 19,668. Losers included Mountain Home (-.68 percent) down to 12,266, McCall (-1.92 percent) to 2,554, and Cascade (-3.19 percent) to 972.

Overall, 52 of Idaho's 200 cities lost population between mid-2008 and mid-2009.

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Community Leaders Gather for Groundbreaking Ceremony of New Boise Law School

Posted By on Tue, Jun 22, 2010 at 12:24 PM

Representatives of Concordia University Shovel Ceremoniously
  • Josh Gross
  • Representatives of Concordia University Shovel Ceremoniously
Aspiring lawyers will soon have a local avenue to achieve their legal aspirations through the development of a new Concordia University School of Law in downtown Boise planned to open in 2011.

Approximately 200 people including local businessmen and women, representatives from the Idaho Supreme Court and Idaho Court of Appeals, Concordia University officials, Mayor Dave Bieter, members of the Boise City Council and representatives from Senators Crapo and Minnick's offices, gathered for the groundbreaking ceremonies at the site of the new school at 501 S. Front Street this morning.

Mayor Bieter, who graduated from the University of Idaho School of Law, said the new facilities would spur new developments in the area to support the population of the school, as well as provide a “boost to the economy and the caliber of the workforce.”

“As a University of Idaho alumni, it’s hard to welcome a school other than U of I, but Boise is a first-come-first-serve city and we’re glad to have you here,” Bieter said.

Bieter also felt the presence of the law school would boost educational opportunities for Boise State students.

The Portland, Ore.-based Concordia University is a private, Lutheran, liberal arts university. They have already purchased the two story, 17,000 square foot building that used to house Oaas Laney and Adecco for the purpose of a law library, and plan on building a 30,000 square foot space to house classrooms, reading rooms, conference areas and offices. The first floor will also be host to a legal clinic, which can be accessed through a Front Street entrance.

A major theme for the speakers at the dedication ceremony was that of service.

"Our university is only as great as the communities we're a part of, and our graduates need to be perceived as making a difference in the lives of others," said Concordia President Dr. Charles Schlimpert.

Dean of the new law school, former Idaho Supreme Court Justice Cathy Silak, described how the school will provide practical legal experience for its students while at the same time, serving the community.

“In our legal training we give increasing emphasis on the moral development of students training in the law school, such as the study of legal ethics and exploration of legal issue,” Silak said. “In helping to advance the education of our students we hope to create legal clinics with the intended purpose to legally serve traditionally underserved populations and partner with organizations that work with those communities.”

Cheryl Wright, Vice President of Finance and Administration at the College of Western Idaho said the community college maintains partnerships with state universities, as well as George Fox University, said the new school is a huge benefit to the students of CWI.

“With partnerships with other universities we give our students an avenue to pursue two years of undergrad and eventually move into a law school,” Wright said. “And just as a citizen, to have a law school within a metropolitan area provides more opportunities for residents and its nice to have a law school to serve the needs of that population.”

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Monday, June 21, 2010

An Ugly Reminder...

Posted By on Mon, Jun 21, 2010 at 3:36 PM

... that racism is alive and not so well in Northern Idaho. The executive director of Coeur d’Alene’s Human Rights Institute says she found a noose hanging at her home, the second such incident since September. Rachel Dolezal, who is black, says she’s been a target of a series of hate-based vandalism at her homes in Coeur d’Alene and Spokane, Wash.

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Amy Herzfeld, executive director of the Boise-based Idaho Human Rights Education Center says the incidents “underscore the importance of their (the Human Rights Institute) work.”

And the Treasure Valley isn't immune. Herzfeld sites this past February’s flurry of racist fliers found near Boise State University, Boise High School and the downtown YMCA.

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Herzfeld says, “There’s a great deal of national political hostility, and (local hate groups) are harnessing that negativity.” Boise police identified a person of interest for distributing the fliers, but made no arrest, because according to prosecutors, “he did not violate any laws.”

Other Treasure Valley hate crimes in recent memory include a swastika carved on the door of the Idaho Black History Museum in April 2002 and vandalism to the Anne Frank Memorial in May of 2007. Meanwhile, the Coeur d’Alene Police Department has opened up an investigation into a possible hate crime at Dolezal’s home.

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Execution Via Twitter

Posted By on Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 10:11 AM

More politicians are realizing they can reach their constituencies via Twitter. But tweeting the decision to move forward with an execution may be a new benchmark low.

Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff sent out the following 134-character message to his followers regarding convicted murder Ronnie Lee Gardner’s appeal to stay his execution by firing squad:

“I just gave the go ahead to Corrections Director to proceed with Gardner's execution. May God grant him the mercy he denied his victims.”

Shurtleff later tweeted that his press conference would be streamed live on the Internet.

Gardner—who was convicted of capital murder in 1985 when he fatally shot an attorney during an escape attempt during his trial for 1984 murder charge in the shooting death of a bartender—was pronounced dead at 12:20 a.m. on Friday, June 18, after being executed by firing squad.

Not surprisingly, Shurtleff’s tweets have caused some international debate.

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