Ada County

Saturday, April 18, 2015

How Much Do Boise Parks Add to Value of Your Home?

Posted By on Sat, Apr 18, 2015 at 9:39 AM

Camel's Back Park
  • Camel's Back Park
A park, particularly a green space in the heart of a metropolis, adds tremendous value to a city. But is it possible to put a dollar value on that worth?

In an effort to measure that value, Dr. Jaap Vos and Dr. Thomas Wuerzer, two professors in Boise State University's Department of Community and Regional Planning, have completed a research project addresssing the question "What is the added economic value that Boise's Parks and Recreation system provides to the City of Boise?" They will reveal their findings to the Boise City Council on Tuesday, April 21.

The national nonprofit Trust for Public Land uses a standard of 500 feet. In other words, they measure a park's economic impact to homes within 500 feet. There are 11,749 properties within 500 feet of Boise parks. Those homes represent more than $2.7 billion in assessed residential property value. Add in the Boise Greenbelt and Foothills, and there are 16,101 properties within the 500 feet, representing $4.2 billion in assessed residential property value.

But Vos tells Boise Weekly that they were more interested in measuring Boise's entire park system (including the Greenbelt and Foothills) and their economic impact to all residences. That comes close to an impact of approximately $580 million.

There are many variables, however, beginning with the fact that not all parks have the same impact and some homes have greater access to multiple parks. 

The following are among the study's conclusions:

-Access is more important than distance.
-Different parks have different economic impacts (for example Ann Morrison and Julia Davis parks have a much greater impact to all city residences while neighborhood parks have a more parochial impact).
-The park system has a significant impact on property tax revenue in all of Ada County.
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Friday, April 17, 2015

Idaho Jobless Rate Drops Again, Now at 3.8 Percent

Posted By on Fri, Apr 17, 2015 at 10:26 AM

Idaho's unemployment rate dipped .10 percent in March to its lowest level in seven years.

This morning, the Idaho Department of Labor reported another 5,400 Idahoans were added to Gem State payrolls in March, dropping the state's unemployment rate to 3.8 percent. Labor Department officials pointed to 1,000 new jobs in the construction industry; commercial transportation and the hospitality industries also saw increases in March. Overall, March's numbers represent the third largest one-month increase on record to boost the labor participation rate—the percentage of working-age adults with jobs or looking for work.

Seventeen counties had rates at or below the statewide rate: Fremont County, with 3.1 percent, had the lowest jobless rate; Adams County had the highest with 7.3 percent.

In the Treasure Valley, the Boise metro market (which includes Boise, Meridian, Nampa and Caldwell), registered a 4 percent unemployment rate, while the city of Boise was at 2.4 percent, the lowest of all major cities in Idaho.
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Thursday, April 9, 2015

BW Video: Rallying Against Child Abuse at Idaho Capitol

Posted By and on Thu, Apr 9, 2015 at 11:50 AM

Students and volunteers setting up balloons ahead of the Rally Against Child Abuse rally at the Idaho State Capitol. Each balloon represents 10 reported cases of child abuse in Idaho. - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Students and volunteers setting up balloons ahead of the Rally Against Child Abuse rally at the Idaho State Capitol. Each balloon represents 10 reported cases of child abuse in Idaho.
The speakers and attendees at the Rally Against Child Abuse on the capitol steps agreed: The cold, drizzly rain and gusty winds made for fittingly bleak weather for their subject. Every year, thousands of Idaho children are physically and sexually abused, but this rally leaned more toward how this hidden social ill affects individuals and their communities.

"I was sexually abused as a kid and was happened was I grew up thinking I was bad. ...I saw it as being my fault," said Matt Pipkin. "And that lie that I was bad took root."

Pipkin said he suffered for 20 years in silence before seeking help. He's now the founder and CEO of Speak Your Silence, a nonprofit that raises awareness about childhood sexual assault and connects victims with appropriate counseling services.

"[Childhood sexual abuse] is not a coffee table conversation piece. We're trying to change that into something people can be really excited to do something about and not take action because it's dreary and a bummer if they don't," he said.

According Pipkin, one in five Americans—some 39 million adults—has experienced some kind of sexual assault prior to the age of 18, but law enforcement officials, including Ada County Prosecutor Jan Bennett and Boise Police Chief Bill Bones, the social stigma surrounding these kinds of crimes make the frequency with which they occur extremely difficult to measure. Bennett said that Ada County's FACES program received 2,100 reports of such abuse in 2014.

"It's a hidden crime too often," Bones said. "It affects [victims] for a lifetime."

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Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Treasure Valley Canals Will Come to Life Wednesday

Posted By on Tue, Mar 31, 2015 at 1:38 PM

A local rite of spring is scheduled to begin in the early morning hours of Wednesday, April 1, as the Boise Project Board of Control and the Nampa and Meridian Irrigation District open the gates to their 2015 irrigation season. The board serves nearly 167,000 acres in Ada and Canon counties, and by the time the water curls through much of the region, 460 canals will rise to allowable elevations.

When and if the initial inflows to the canals become inefficient, the Boise Project begins tapping into storage from Arrowrock, Anderson Ranch and Lake Lowell.

Meanwhile the Nampa and Meridian District, the largest water manager in the Treasure Valley, will also open the headgates of the Ridenbaugh Canal near Barber Park in the early hours of April 1, diverting Boise River water into the canal and deliver irrigation water to approximately 69,000 acres of Treasure Valley agricultural and residential lands. 

It takes approximately two weeks to completely fill, clean and test the 500 miles of main and lateral canals, so actual water deliveries in the Nampa and Meridian District should begin by mid-April.

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Monday, March 30, 2015

The Benefits of Madison County (Idaho's Healthiest)

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 9:31 AM

Idaho's healthiest county? That would be Madison, in eastern Idaho. Idaho least-healthy? That's Benewah, between Moscow and Coeur d'Alene in north central Idaho.  For the record, statistics were not available for Camas or Clark counties.

The Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, in collaboration with the University of Wisconsin Population Health Institute, is out with its annual health rankings for counties throughout the United States—measuring obvious health behaviors such as diet, tobacco and alcohol use, sexual activity and access to care; but the study also examines high school graduation rates, employment, income, housing and transit to configure the rankings. 

And based on equal weighting of length and quality of life, Madison County comes out on top, followed by Blaine, Lewis, Oneida and Adams counties. Madison County got very high marks for quality of life and health behaviors, where it came out first in the state.

Though statistics were not available for Camas or Clark counties, the bottom of the pack was Benewah County, with Lemhi, Shoshone, Clewater and Washington counties also ranking low.

Ada County ranked seventh overall, getting high marks (third highest in Idaho) for health factors such as its food environment and access to exercise opportunities. And Ada ranked first in the state when it comes to clinical care. But dragging Ada County (eighth in the state) was its physical environment, including air pollution, severe housing problems and the number of people who drive alone to work.


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Monday, January 12, 2015

Ada County Officials, Including New Coroner, Sworn Into Office

Posted By on Mon, Jan 12, 2015 at 3:52 PM

Ada County Commissioner Jim Tibbs after being announced as the new Chairman of the Board of Commissioners. - ADA COUNTY
  • Ada County
  • Ada County Commissioner Jim Tibbs after being announced as the new Chairman of the Board of Commissioners.
Newly named Chairman of the Board of Ada County Commissioners, Jim Tibbs, administers Oath of Office to incoming Coroner Dotti Owens. - ADA COUNTY
  • Ada County
  • Newly named Chairman of the Board of Ada County Commissioners, Jim Tibbs, administers Oath of Office to incoming Coroner Dotti Owens.

Ada County's top officials took the oath of office Monday at the County Courthouse in Boise. 

Dotti Owens, the only Democratic candidate to secure a win in an Ada County-wide race in the fall election, took over for Erwin Sonnenberg, who served as Ada County Coroner for 30 years.

Also taking the oath of office Monday were Republicans County Clerk Christopher Rich, Assessor Robert McQuade, Treasurer Vicky McIntyre and County Commissioners Jim Tibbs and Rick Yzaguirre.

Additionally, Tibbs was selected by fellow Commissioners Yzaguirre and Dave Case (who is in the middle of a four-year term) to serve as Chairman of the Ada County Commission. Tibbs replaces Case as Chairman.

"When Dave and I took office, we had some real challenges ahead of us, and with Rick Yzaguirre’s help, along with the other Elected Officials, we were able to face those challenges and make a lot of progress toward what we hope to see happen at Ada County," said Tibbs. "There’s still a lot of work to be done, but I look forward to the next two years.”

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Sunday, January 11, 2015

Ada County Officials, Including New Coroner Dotti Owens, Take Oath Jan. 12

Posted By on Sun, Jan 11, 2015 at 9:07 AM

Swearing-in ceremonies are set for the morning of Monday, Jan. 12,at the Ada County Courthouse where some familiar faces will take the oath of office, as will the only Democratic candidate to secure a win an Ada County-wide race in the fall of 2014.

Dotti Owens, a former employee of the Ada County Coroner's Office, secured endorsements from Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson and Ada County Sheriff Gary Raney and November's general election, she secured 54 percent of the vote to Republican challenger Mike Chilton's 46 percent.

Owens replaces Erwin Sonnenberg, who served as Ada County Coroner for 30 years.

In other Ada County races, incumbent Republican County Clerk Christopher Rich was re-elected with 56 percent of the vote, and incumbent GOP County Commissioner Rick Yzaguirre was re-elected with 55 percent of the vote.

Ada County Commissioner Jim Tibbs, Assessor Robert McQuade and Treasurer Vicky McIntyre, who all ran unopposed, were also reelected. 

Monday's swearing-in ceremony begins at 9 a.m. in the first floor public meeting room of the Ada County Courthouse in Boise.

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Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Boise FACES Justice Center Renamed After Outgoing Prosecuting Attorney

Posted By on Tue, Dec 2, 2014 at 10:43 AM

Outgoing Ada County Prosecuting Attorney Greg Bower - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Outgoing Ada County Prosecuting Attorney Greg Bower
Greg Bower has worked with the Ada County Prosecutor's Office for nearly 40 years, and has served as the Ada County prosecutor since 1982. Now that he has announced his retirement—his replacement is incoming Ada County Prosecutor Jan Bennetts—he's getting a building named after him.

To be precise, the FACES Family Justice Center, where victims of violence and abuse may deliver witness testimony, receive police services and obtain counseling, is being renamed the Greg H. Bower Family Justice Center in the outgoing prosecutor's honor. Bower had been instrumental in arranging funding, infrastructure and police cooperation throughout the history of the center, which opened in 2006.

"Everybody comes into this space and gets along," he said, comparing FACES' spirit of cooperation to the "blue helmet" camaraderie of the United Nations. "We work in a territorial business, and we abandon that territory here."

Referencing the upcoming retirement of Boise Police Chief Mike Masterson, Bower told the crowd of approximately 70 city and county officials, FACES staff and the press that the two outgoing public servants have left victims services in Idaho in better shape than they found them. 

"The legacy that we leave behind is a legacy of congeniality and cooperation," he said.
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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Recreation Center Proposed for Kuna

Posted By on Sun, Nov 23, 2014 at 12:26 PM

While the city of Meridian will be seeing a new elementary school, city park, and YMCA complete with a gym and an aquatics center near the intersection of Eagle and Amity roads, Kuna may see a new recreation club as well. 

The Kuna Boys and Girls Club Committee and the city of Kuna are hosting a community meeting on Dec. 1 at 7 p.m. to discuss the proposed complex at Kuna High School.

According to the Idaho Press-Tribune, the complex will include a recreation center and a pool, but unlike the proposed South YMCA, which will cater to some 15,000 members, this facility is not meant to be a place for exercising. Rather, it'll be a community center where community members can hold educational classes, have meetings for organizations, socialize and partake in special events like children's birthday parties. 
The city hopes to put funding options before voters by next year.
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Thursday, July 3, 2014

YMCA Tax Exemption Reinstated, Ada County Commissioners Reverse Earlier Action

Posted By on Thu, Jul 3, 2014 at 10:56 AM

Treasure Valley Family YMCA Executive Director Jim Everett (left) testifies before the Ada County Commissioners' Board of Equalization. - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Treasure Valley Family YMCA Executive Director Jim Everett (left) testifies before the Ada County Commissioners' Board of Equalization.

The Ada County Commissioners' Board of Equalization—which, incidentally, has the same membership as the Ada County Commissioners—has reversed, in a 3-0 vote, its May 7 decision to lower the YMCA's tax exemption rate from 100 percent to 19 percent before a crowd of about 220 mostly YMCA supporters. The Y is now fully tax-exempt, as it has been since it first came to the Treasure valley 122 years ago.

The issue at hand: Whether—as was argued April 7 by managers of Axiom Fitness and Idaho Athletic Club—the YMCA's West Y facilities failed to meet the qualifications required of a tax-exempt organization. Specifically, the percentage of the value of a nonprofit facility used for commercial purposes must not exceed 3 percent. In testimony by Treasure Valley Family YMCA Executive Director Jim Everett, commercial use of those facilities—rehabilitation programs run by St. Luke's and a snack bar—amounted to approximately 1 percent of those facilities.

To boot, Everett argued, the Y's activities in the area have enhanced public access to fitness and other services, especially among children, the disabled, the homeless and other at-risk populations. 

"If you don't like the homeless, you're not going to like the Y," he said.

He further said that the YMCA and for-profit fitness ventures have successfully coexisted in the area for years. Everett cited an instance in which an erroneous media report falsely pitted the nonprofit against Gold's Gym, and a regional executive from Gold's responded to YMCA leadership in an email, which Everett read before the board.

"Our missions are different. ... God Bless the YMCA," the email read.

Attendees of the Ada County Commissioners' Board of Equalization - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • Attendees of the Ada County Commissioners' Board of Equalization

Three YMCA members delivered testimony to illustrate the impact the Y has had on their lives. First among these was Noail Isho, an Iraqi Catholic who moved to the United States four years ago. When he arrived in the U.S., he couldn't swim. Today, he's a YMCA swim instructor.

"My first experience was jumping in the pool and drowning," he said.

"Almost drowning," someone chimed in to laughter from the crowd.

Y member Alissa Aldrich has two sons, Noah and Lucas. Lucas suffers from a rare condition, lissencephaly, and suffers from severe mental and physical disabilities. Aldrich said the YMCA encouraged both sons to participate in a youth triathlon taking place in a few weeks using specialized equipment supplied by the YMCA.

"This is so much more than a swim-and-run gym," Aldrich said. "Not only has the Y embraced the boys—it's embraced our whole family."

From top to bottom: Alissa, Noah and Lucas Aldrich. - HARRISON BERRY
  • Harrison Berry
  • From top to bottom: Alissa, Noah and Lucas Aldrich.

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