Thursday, May 26, 2011

Idaho Hispanic Population Grows by 73 Percent

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2011 at 3:38 PM

Idaho continues to reflect the nation's rapidly changing ethnic diversity. New figures released today by the U.S. Census Bureau show the nation's Hispanic population grew by more than 15 million between 2000 and 2010, and accounted for more than half of the total U.S. population increase of 27.3 million.

Idaho's Hispanic population reportedly jumped from 101,690 in 2000 to 175,901 in 2010, a full 73 percent increase. Idaho's overall population increased by 21.1 percent. The Magic Valley experienced the greatest Hispanic influx, while Clark, Owyhee and Power counties also saw increases.

Nationwide, Mexican origin was the largest group, representing 63 percent of the total U.S. Hispanic population. Puerto Ricans, the second largest group, comprised 9 percent in 2010.

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AAA: Idahoans Ready to Hit the Road Again

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2011 at 11:02 AM

Despite gas prices being dramatically higher than a year ago, AAA is guessing more people will be traveling during the upcoming Memorial Day Holiday weekend.

Idaho's average gas price is $3.77, up 67 cents from a year ago. AAA is predicting that a recent trend in lower prices should continue, barring any unforeseen development. The recent drop in oil and gasoline future prices is being credited.

AAA projects 34.9 million Americans, or 11 percent of the population, will travel 50 miles or more from home this coming weekend. By the way, the Memorial Day holiday travel period officially begins today and runs through Monday evening.

"We're seeing a pent-up demand for travel this year, despite higher gas prices," said Doreen Loofburrow, vice president of travel for AAA Oregon/Idaho. "The challenging economy forced many to put their vacation plans on hold for the last couple years, and now they are ready to hit the road again."

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Quick Exit of La Nina, Hot and Cold Extremes Blamed for Tornadoes

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2011 at 10:09 AM

A staff writer for tries to find some simple answers to a horribly complex issue: 2011's tragic tornado season.

According to preliminary numbers from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, nearly 1,200 tornadoes have swept through the United States this year. The death toll has already topped 500, a number not seen since 1953.

  • NOAA

Andrea Mustain explains that three key factors are driving much of the tornado activity:

• La Nina's exit: The weather maker that cooled the waters of the equatorial Pacific Ocean made a sudden exit three months ago.
• Hot and cold: Last winter's record snow packs have kept northern air especially cold, while the Gulf of Mexico is warmer than average.
• Numbers game: A century ago, when the country was more sparsely populated, fewer tornadoes were spotted.

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Greenhouse Auto Stickers Unveiled

Posted By on Thu, May 26, 2011 at 8:49 AM

The Environmental Protection Agency and the Department of Transportation unveiled new fuel economy window stickers Wednesday. You will see them on all new vehicles beginning with the 2013 model year. Simply put, the sticker will, for the first time, estimate annual fuel costs and the vehicle's overall environmental impact.


Original designs included a letter grade from A to D comparing a vehicle's fuel economy and pollution impact to those of other cars, but the EPA and DOT rejected the letter system due largely to pressure from automakers. Instead the label will include a greenhouse gas rating and a smog rating. The sticker will also include an estimated annual fuel cost based on 15,000 miles traveled at a fuel price of $3.70 per gallon. It will also estimate how much fuel the vehicle should need to travel 100 miles.

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Organizers: Goal Passed To Put Luna Laws on 2012 Ballot

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2011 at 5:59 PM

Organizers of an effort to force a referendum on school chief Tom Luna's education overhaul package say they have "enough signatures" to force a vote on the three controversial laws in November 2012. A total of 47,432 valid signatures are required on each of three petitions to put the three "Students Come First" laws to a referenda.

A spokesman for Idahoans for Responsible Education Reform said the group will continue to collect signatures before the June 6 deadline to turn petitions in to the Secretary of State's office.

"We know that people don't want to see the larger class sizes, layoffs and unfunded technology mandates that these laws are already causing," said Mike Lanza, IREA chair.

County clerks offices across Idaho are verifying the signatures, but the petitions need to be officially qualified by Secretary of State Ben Ysursa.

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Treasure Valley Racing Gets Green Light for 2011 Season

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2011 at 3:12 PM

As expected, the Idaho State Racing Commission told representatives of Treasure Valley Racing to get set for a new thoroughbred race season at Les Bois Park beginning Saturday, July 2.

Live races are scheduled for Wednesdays and Saturdays through mid-August, with special race cards slated for Monday, July 4, and Friday, Aug. 12 (the running of the Idaho Cup). The abbreviated 15-day season will the first racing at Les Bois since 2008.

A simulcast operation is expected to open in early June.

BW recently sat down with Doug Okuniewicz, the new manager of racing operations, to talk about Treasure Valley Racing and its plans for the summer. You can read our Citizen interview here.

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Idaho Housing Prices Drop 16 Percent in First Quarter

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2011 at 3:08 PM

Idaho housing prices continue to plummet. In fact, The Washington-based Federal Housing Finance Agency reported today that Idaho had the biggest drop in prices during the first quarter of 2011 from a year earlier, at 16 percent.

According to the report, nationwide, U.S. home prices dropped 5.5 percent in the first quarter, the biggest decline in almost two years. Sales of discounted foreclosures are being blamed.

The FHFA's measure is based on properties with loans backed by mortgage financiers Fannie Mae or Freddie Mac. According to the National Association of Realtors, foreclosures and short sales, in which banks agree to let properties sell for less than their loan balances, have accounted for about 38 percent of transactions this year.

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Landmark Jeff D. Case Heading Back to Federal Court

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2011 at 12:20 PM

A 30-year-old case challenging how severely emotionally and mentally disabled children are treated in Idaho is heading back to a federal courtroom. A ruling handed down this morning from the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals determined that "clear and convincing" evidence had not been sufficiently determined through a series of "action items" to provide a proper standard of care.

The case, which dates back to August 1980, was filed on behalf of an anonymous child, known only as Jeff D., and all indigent Idaho children suffering from severe emotional and mental disabilities. The lawsuit against then-Gov. Dirk Kempthorne and other state officials, alleged that inadequate care was a violation of the children's constitutional rights.

In the ensuing years, the parties reached agreements intended to remedy deficiencies in care. A major overhaul of Idaho Health and Welfare divisions resulted in more than 250 action items to provide adequate care for mentally disabled children. Three separate consent agreements were entered by the district court, and no less than four appeals were subsequently filed. The district court vacated the consent decrees in 2007.

But now, Jeff D. v. Clement Leroy Otter (in his official capacity as governor) is heading back to U.S. District Court because the state did not provide a standard for determining compliance to the original action plan.

You can read the full ruling here.

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Idaho Fourth Most Stressed in Nation

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2011 at 11:48 AM

Idaho is the fourth most stressed-out state, according to a survey released today. The Gallup-Healthways Well-Being Index was compiled from interviews throughout 2010 of more than 350,000 adults in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia.

Forty-three percent of Idahoans participating in the survey said they had experienced stress through much of the previous day. You don't have to travel far to experience more stress. According to the survey, Utah is the most stressed with more than 45 percent of those surveyed saying they had experienced stress "a lot of the day" the prior day. Hawaii came out as the "least stressed."

Below are the overall rankings.

Continue reading »

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Ten Mile Interchange to Open Under Budget, Ahead of Schedule

Posted By on Wed, May 25, 2011 at 10:55 AM

The Treasure Valley's commute will never be the same once the Idaho Transportation Department opens the new Ten Mile interchange later today.

The 22-month project came in six months ahead of schedule and $1 million under an expected budget of $33.8 million. During construction, the project created more than 400 jobs.


The design is dubbed a "single point urban interchange," not unlike the new Vista Avenue interchange near the Boise airport. The Ten Mile interchange will give drivers a new way to access I-84 on the six-mile stretch between the Garrity and Meridian interchanges. Construction will continue over the summer as permanent concrete is poured under the new interchange. One eastbound and one westbound lane will be closed for several weeks in June and July.

According to the U.S. Census Bureau, Meridian's population grew from 42,481 to 75,092 between 2003 and 2010.

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