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Thursday, May 31, 2012

Citydesk Gets First Look at CWI Micron Center

Posted By on Thu, May 31, 2012 at 2:53 PM

Crews putting finishing touches at Micron Center for Professional Technical Education
  • Christina Marfice
  • Crews put finishing touches on the Micron Center for Professional Technical Education today at the College of Western Idaho's Nampa campus.

The College of Western Idaho expects to open portions of its new Micron Center for Professional Technical Education as early as Monday, June 11, with the entire building opening in time for the start of the fall semester at the Nampa campus on Monday, Aug. 27. Boise Weekly was among those to get a first look inside the $16.9 million project that will include student services, a campus bookstore, administrative offices, tutoring, classrooms and industry labs.

“Our [department] has been in the same facilities for over 30 years, and we outgrew those facilities about 25 years ago,” said Jeff Schroeder, transportation department chair.

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Zoo Boise Debuts New Sloth Bear Exhibit

Posted By on Thu, May 31, 2012 at 11:38 AM

Paji the sloth bear returns to her newly renovated Zoo Boise pen.
  • Andrew Crisp
  • Paji the sloth bear returns to her newly renovated Zoo Boise pen Thursday morning.

After eight months away from her Zoo Boise exhibit, Paji the sloth bear returned to a newly renovated pen this morning, in anticipation of the public's first glimpse Friday. Sitting in a corner near the feeding area, Paji scratched her large back against bamboo serving as part of the exhibit's new decorations.

"Paji is actually Hindi for mischief," said Liz Littman, Zoo Boise director of development and communications. "She's definitely a very curious bear."

Just then, a staffer began feeding the lumbering bear a snack. Paji formed her lips into a circle, sucking the food through a PVC pipe like a straw.

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Fate of Caldwell Charter School Mulled by State Commission

Posted By on Thu, May 31, 2012 at 10:57 AM

The Idaho Public Charter School Commission is meeting this morning to consider the fate the Heritage Community Charter School in Caldwell. HCCS opened in Fall 2011 and serves students in grades K-12, using a bilingual (English-Spanish) education model.

A 17-page report from the state commission outlined a number of concerns, including:
-HCCS Directors "struggling with understanding and fulfillment of their governance role."
-HCCS Board "lacking adequate knowledge or understanding of the school's financial situation."
-A lack of a permanent administrator since the original administrator went on medical leave in December.
-No permanent full-time business manager.
-Student attrition during the year has been approximately 20 percent.
-An "unusually high number of disciplinary issues throughout the year."
-The school is "not able to offer several required courses, including health and speech."
-"Insufficient space is an issue at the school."

HCCS board president Richard Hammond sent an official statement out to the media and parents, saying that he was "proud of the education that is offered and was excited for the future."

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Phil Hart Files For Bankruptcy

Posted By on Thu, May 31, 2012 at 10:54 AM

May has not been one of Athol Republican Rep. Phil Hart's better months.

On May 15, Hart lost the GOP primary for his District 2 seat to challenger Ed Morse, in effect putting a halt to his four terms in the Idaho House of Representatives.

And on May 30, it was revealed that Hart filed for bankruptcy protection in federal court, following his drawn-out battles surrounding unpaid state and federal income taxes, interest and penalties.

Hart listed three creditors in the Chapter 13 filing: the U.S. Internal Revenue Service, the Idaho State Tax Commission, and Anderson and Krieger, a California law firm.

April wasn't any better for Hart. He lost two legal challenges—one in federal court and another in the Idaho Supreme Court. On April 3, U.S. District Justice Edward Lodge ordered Hart to finish up final discovery and pre-trial motions so that he is prepared to defend himself in federal court on Tuesday, Nov. 6. On April 26, Idaho's high court rejected Hart's appeal over $53,000 in unpaid state taxes, interest and penalties.

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Downtown, North End Power Outage Hits 2,000

Posted By on Thu, May 31, 2012 at 10:51 AM

Automatic garage door openers, PCs, TVs—you name it—were all jolted around 8 o'clock this morning when power went out through Downtown Boise and parts of the city's North End.

Boise Weekly was among nearly 2,000 customers that were hit by the outage, which was bordered by Resseguie, Front, Fort and 22nd streets.

Idaho Power is blaming a broken power pole and downed power lines for the problem.

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Study: Yellowstone Supervolcano 'May Erupt Sooner'

Posted By on Thu, May 31, 2012 at 10:47 AM

New research indicates that a supervolcano—among the largest volcanoes on the planet—is simmering beneath Yellowstone National Park. Additionally, new scientific thinking concludes that supervolcanoes may take as little as a few hundred years to form and erupt. If it erupted, the Yellowstone supervolcano risks rendering two thirds of the country uninhabitable, according to the UK Press Association.

Supervolcanoes are fueled by giant pools of magma, typically 10-25 miles across, that form deep underground. Previously, supervolcanoes—which spew out roughly 1,000 times more material than Mount St. Helens did in 1980—were thought to exist for as much as 200,000 years before releasing their vast underground pools of molten rock. However, researchers reporting in the May 30 edition of PLoS ONE said they have found a magma pool in California that began erupting within hundreds of years of forming.

"Our study suggests that when these exceptionally large magma pools form, they are ephemeral and cannot exist very long without erupting," Guilherme Gualda, an assistant professor of earth and environmental sciences at Vanderbilt University, told NBC News.

Yellowstone experienced a super eruption about 2.1 million years ago.

"The fact that, at Yellowstone, there’s no giant magma body right now doesn’t mean that in hundreds to thousands of years we couldn’t have one," said Gualda."By understanding these time scales better, we know better what to expect."

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Dirtiest Place in the Office: Men's Desks

Posted By on Thu, May 31, 2012 at 9:17 AM

New research suggests that men's offices have "significantly more bacteria" than women's.

An examination of 90 offices in New York, San Francisco and Tucson, Ariz., found that office chairs and phones were the most bacteria-heavy surfaces, rather than keyboards. The bacteria mostly came from human bodies—mainly skin, oral cavities and nasal cavities. Researchers also noted a "surprising number of bacterial genera" associated with the digestive tract.

The study published in the journal PloS One noted that the difference between the sexes was due to bad male hygiene.

Dr. Michael Gardam, head of infection control at Toronto's University Health Network, said that office workers "shouldn't freak out."

"I don't want people to look at this study and go, 'Oh my God, my office is filthy,"' said Gardam. "No, your office is covered in bacteria—like every other surface you're ever going to touch. They're everywhere. And that's normal."

The researchers said the study could be the first step in further research, such as analyzing so-called ''sick buildings.''

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Wednesday, May 30, 2012

War Chest 2012: Idaho Donations to Romney Outpace Obama 4-1

Posted By on Wed, May 30, 2012 at 4:00 PM

Editor's note: Beginning this week, Citydesk will be regularly tracking campaign war chests, local and national, as we follow donations to the White House, U.S. Congress and the Idaho Statehouse.

Presumptive Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney’s fund-raising efforts in the Gem State are outpacing President Barack Obama’s campaign donations four-to-one, and, in eastern Idaho, as much as 23-to-one.

In eastern Idaho, the disparity is even larger than in the state as a whole. Romney has collected $214,401 in that area compared to Obama’s $9,474.

As of April 30, the former Massachusetts governor's campaign has collected $774,298 from Idaho contributors, compared to only $194,088 donated to Obama’s campaign. To date, not including super PACs, Romney raised more money in Idaho than in 25 states and Washington, D.C.

However, a detailed review of Idahoan's individual contributions reveals that Obama collected approximately
200 more donations than Romney, whose donors gave much larger sums, many donating $2,500, the maximum amount allowed by the Federal Election Commission. Obama’s average donation was just over $100. To date, 267 Idahoans have given the $2,500 maximum to Romney’s campaign. Only 29 Idahoans have done the same for Obama.

Some of Romney’s top Gem State supporters are high-profile names in the state, such as newly appointed Micron CEO Mark Durcan, Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter, Lt. Gov. Brad Little and Frank VanderSloot, billionaire CEO of Melaleuca, Inc.

Additionally, VanderSloot's company is one of the largest donors to the pro-Romney super PAC, Restore Our Future, contributing more than $1 million.

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Lost Wolf Pup Sent to Zoo Boise For Care

Posted By on Wed, May 30, 2012 at 1:25 PM

Zoo Boise has become a temporary home to a lost pup, while officials await DNA test results to determine "whether it is a wolf, a wolf-hybrid or something else," according to Idaho Fish and Game.

Out-of-town campers discovered the pup outside of Ketchum over the Memorial Day Weekend. A technician at a local veterinarian clinic initially thought the animal was a wolf, so Fish and Game officials spent four days looking for a wolf pack in the area where the pup was found, but couldn't find fresh tracks.

In the meantime, the pup was in need of care and was transferred to Zoo Boise.

"The pup is not in the best physical condition," said a Fish and Game spokesman.

Wildlife officials theorized that it was possible that a pack was moving with pups—perhaps from a den to a rendezvous site—and may have been disturbed by traffic.

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Report: Hostess Liquidation Could Result in Shutdowns, Idaho Layoffs

Posted By on Wed, May 30, 2012 at 1:23 PM

Texas-based Hostess Brands, which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in January, sent out notices to each of its 18,500 U.S. employees this month, warning of layoffs at facilities across the country, including Idaho.

The New York Post reported earlier this month that the maker of Twinkies and Ding Dongs was "inching closer to liquidation," after creditors rejected recent proposals to buy the company out of bankruptcy. Judge Robert Drain warned that "the company was running out of time to present a reorganization plan," forcing the company to mail the notices to its workers, "warning them that it may liquidate in the next two months."

The notices warned of possible plant closures, including nine Idaho facilities, which could see 78 layoffs.

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