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Thursday, April 9, 2015

Layoffs Loom After Indefinite Suspension at Port of Lewiston

Posted By on Thu, Apr 9, 2015 at 9:21 AM

The other shoe has dropped at the Port of Lewiston, which learned earlier this week that its largest container shipper would no longer transport cargo on the Columbia River. This morning's Lewiston Tribune reports that employees at the Port of Lewiston will be losing their jobs.

The Port of Lewiston employs seven people, but its budget is $1.9 million. The port had expected about $450,000 each from rentals and property taxes as well as $260,000 from the Inland 465 company, which operates a huge warehouse at the port.

At a grim Wednesday meeting of Port of Lewiston commissioners, just two days  after Hapag-Lloyd announced it was pulling up anchor at the Port of Oregon and thus stranding huge containers of Idaho agricultural products with nowhere to go, commissioners confirmed that they were suspending container operations at the Lewiston port indefinitely.

Commissioners said they've already brought the issue to the attention of Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter and Idaho Department of Agriculture Director Celia Gould.
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Sabra Hummus Pulled From Shelves Over Listeria Fear

Posted By on Thu, Apr 9, 2015 at 9:18 AM

Sabra, maker of the nation's top-selling brands of hummus, has pulled more than 300,000 containers of its product from store shelves after samples tested positive for Listeria. The company quickly added that there had been no reported cases of human-traced illness linked to the hummus. The Food and Drug Administration said the recall was voluntary.

The affected tubs of hummus, in containers between 10- and 32 ounces, have the following UPC/SKU codes with best "use by" dates of May 2015:
  • 040822011143 / 300067
  • 040822014667 / 300074
  • 040822342049 / 301216
  • 040822017497 / 301290
  • 040822342209 / 301283
Sabra said consumers can return any affected product to their grocery store for a full refund.


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Wednesday, April 1, 2015

Video: Idaho Hamlet's Post Office Goes Dark

Posted By on Wed, Apr 1, 2015 at 9:59 AM

The United States Postal Service has long been slogging through waist-deep red ink, and its latest casualty is a small post office in the small Bonner County community of Careywood in Idaho's panhandle. For more than a century, residents have kept post office boxes, shipped packages or simply chatted about the weather with their local postmaster. But the Postal Service has turned off the lights at the post office, just north of Athol on Highway 95. The 120 regular P.O. box customers have been told that they'll need to travel seven miles to the south (about a 15- to 20-minute drive) to pick up their mail in Athol from now on.

KREM-TV reports that Tuesday was the final day for the post office which services the community of about 500 residents. But Careywood townfolk argued that the post office served more as a community center and the loss was intangible.



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April Fool! Switzerland's Spaghetti Harvest, Taco Bell Buys the Liberty Bell and the Game of Thrones Version of Clue

Posted By on Wed, Apr 1, 2015 at 9:56 AM

There have been some classic April Fools' Day pranks, and more than a few of them have gotten some people fired or disciplined.

In 1905, the Berliner (Germany) Tagelatt ran a story that thieves had tunneled underneath the U.S. Treasury and stolen all of its gold and silver. The story was even picked up by newspapers across Europe and even some papers in the U.S. 

In 1992, National Public Radio had a story of how Richard Nixon had announced that he would run for president again later that year. 

In 1996, Taco Bell announced in an advertisement that it had purchased the Liberty Bell.

In 1957, the BBC reported on an "exceptionally heavy spaghetti crop" in Switzerland, including some footage of farmers harvesting noodles from trees. (Check out the video).


This year, Google has turned its maps into Pac Man maps, featuring the ever-hungry Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde.

And Think Geek has announced some great new faux toys, including a steam-powered gaming console, a Game of Thrones-themed version of Clue and the Do-It-Your-Selfie 360-degree Selfie Ring.
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Monday, March 30, 2015

Idaho Supreme Court Affirms $3.5 Million Award in Drivers-Ed Suit

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 9:43 AM

The Idaho Supreme Court ruled early today that a $3.5 million judgment was appropriate when a Wood River Valley Family successfully sued the Blaine County School District for damages after their 15-year-old son, Austin Hennefer, was killed in a driver's ed crash in October 2010.

In May 2013, a Blaine County jury said the school district was "100 percent at fault" for the incident in which a student was practicing a three-point turn in a Carey School driver's-education car on an icy U.S. Highway 20. The driver's-ed car was struck by another car, killing Hennefer.

The school district appealed the verdict, and even asked for a new trial. But a district court denied both motions.

In its ruling handed down today, the Idaho Supreme Court ruled that the school district "was found to have acted recklessly," and "the limitation on non-economic damages in Idaho Code did not apply."

Idaho's high court said that the "jury was properly instructed on what constituted reckless misconduct and that the evidence supported the verdict." You can read the full ruling on the appeal here.


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'Religious Freedom' Measure Should Look Familiar to Idaho Statehouse Watchers

Posted By on Mon, Mar 30, 2015 at 9:33 AM

Indiana Gov. Mike Pence spent the better part of Sunday defending his state's new "religious freedom" law, which looks quite familiar to Idaho Statehouse watchers.

Pence's measure prohibits any state laws that "substantially burden" a person's ability to follow his or her religious beliefs—and by "person" the law goes on to include religious institutions, businesses and associations.

A year ago, Boise Republican Rep. Lynn Luker floated a pair of measures—House bills 426 and 427—also deemed "religious freedom" bills. 

"Government has gone so far that it is forcing these conflicts and controversies," Luker wrote to Boise Weekly. "People of faith have finally decided to say we have to do something to protect ourselves from this assault upon our rights, which after all are protected in the very first amendment to the Constitution." 

The bills ultimately got hung up in committee and never made it to the House or Senate floors. Outrage over the measures, which had striking similarities to other "religious freedom" bills introduced around the country in 2014, centered on what Luker and others attempt to set a new standard by which cases involving religious objections would be judged.

Meanwhile, Pence appeared on ABC's This Week on Sunday and refused to directly answer whether under his law it would be legal for a merchant to refuse to serve gay customers. Pence was asked directly six times during the awkward exchange with host George Stephanopoulos.

"This is not about discrimination, this is about empowering people to confront government overreach," said Pence. Asked again, he said, "Look, the issue here is still, 'is tolerance a two-way street or not?'"

More than a few businesses have already nixed their desire to do business in Pence's state. Angie's List has shelved a headquarters expansion plan that would have brought the state 1,000 jobs. Safesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff said he would no longer send customers or employees to Indiana. Meanwhile, the NCAA suggested that it could move future events elsewhere; the men's Final Four had already been scheduled for Indianapolis next weekend.


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Wednesday, March 25, 2015

FEMA : Climate Change-Denying Governors Risk Withheld Funding

Posted By on Wed, Mar 25, 2015 at 10:00 AM

The Federal Emergency Management Agency, the first federal agency that a governor usually calls in time of natural disaster, has gone on record that more Republican governors need to get on board when it comes to climate change, otherwise they risk not getting federal disaster-preparedness funds.

Idaho Governor C.L. "Butch" Otter has previously said that he doesn't support enacting environmental regulations aimed at reducing the effects of climate change. He joins a list of GOP governors, including Chris Christie (New Jersey), Rick Scott (Florida), Bobby Jindal (Louisiana), Greg Abbott (Texas) and Pat McCrory (North Carolina) who have waffled or flat-out denied climate change.

But under a new policy from FEMA, which goes into effect in March 2016, the state's risk assessments must include consideration of the changing of climate conditions that could impact the state vulnerability to hazards. Simply put, if a state wants federal disaster preparedness money, they'll be required to consider how climate change threatens their communities.

"An understanding of vulnerabilities will assist with prioritizing mitigation actions and policies that reduce risk from future events,” the agency said.

The gubernatorial approval clause was included in the new guidelines to "raise awareness and support for implementing the actions in the mitigation strategy and increasing statewide resilience to natural hazards," said FEMA spokeswoman Susan Hendrick.
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Monday, March 2, 2015

Dangerous Weekend: Three Bad Accidents, Two Fatalities

Posted By on Mon, Mar 2, 2015 at 9:50 AM

It was a particularly dangerous weekend on the region's roadways. 

A Jerome man was killed in the early morning hours of March 1 following a one-vehicle accident on I-84 in Jerome County. Adrian Torres, 21, a passenger in the vehicle, was pronounced dead at the scene. The driver, 21-year-old Bruno Vargas, was rushed to St. Luke's Magic Valley Medical Center. Officials said neither man was wearing a seatbelt.

Just before midnight on Feb. 28, a two-vehicle crash in Nampa sent one man to the hospital. The accident occurred near South Florida Avenue and Karcher Road. Police said Jose Contreras, 33, of Caldwell, suffered injuries after he failed to yield a stop sign, leading to the crash. Contreras was rushed to Saint Alphonsus Regional Medical Center in Boise. Police said he was not wearing a seatbelt.

Meanwhile, investigators are still looking into a one-car crash that killed a man in the early morning hours of Feb. 28. The incident began when a Boise police officer spotted an SUV driving recklessly on Vista Avenue near West Targee Street. The SUV took off southbound on Vista and was spotted a short time later after it crashed into a building on the 2000 block of West Airport Way. The driver, the only occupant of the SUV, was pronounced dead at a local hospital.
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Monday, February 23, 2015

Weekend Accidents Claim Two Lives

Posted By on Mon, Feb 23, 2015 at 10:47 AM

Two weekend accidents—one in Nampa, another in eastern Idaho—have claimed two lives.

Idaho State Police are investigating a two-car crash that killed 21-year-old Allison Brungardt of Meridian. ISP say Brungardt's vehicle crossed the center line on Cherry Lane in Nampa in the evening hours of Feb. 21. That's when ISP said Brungardt's car smashed into another vehicle. Brungardt was dead at the scene and the driver of the second vehicle, 21-year-old Hayden Wright of Nampa was taken to Saint Alphonsus Health Plaza in Nampa for treatment of her injuries.

Meanwhile, a northern Utah man was killed Feb. 21 in a snowmobile accident in Franklin County. Law enforcement was notified of the accident in the area of the Franklin Basin, triggering a search and rescue effort. The Franklin County Sheriff's Office later said 73-year-old Denis Thompson of Smithfield, Utah, had climbed a very steep hill on his snowmobile but it appeared that the snowmobile had struck some trees. Thompson was dead at the scene.


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Sunday, February 8, 2015

Probe: Pilot Error Blamed for Fatal Apache Crash

Posted By on Sun, Feb 8, 2015 at 10:43 AM

Three months after an Apache helicopter crashed south of Boise, killing both its occupants, military investigators are pointing to operator error.

Investigators said Feb. 7 that the flight, which took place during the evening hours of Nov. 6, was intended to be a training mission with only one of helicopter's twin engines running. However, it turns out that both engines had been shut down when the pilot presumably put them both in a lockout position.

The crash occurred around 7 p.m. on private land near the intersection of Pleasant Valley Road and Hollilyn Drive.
 
"The two-man flight crew experienced an emergency situation from which it was not possible to recover," said Idaho National Guard spokesman Colonel Tim Marsano, detailing the report from an 11-person team of investigators from the U.S. Army.

The crash killed Chief Warrant Officer Jon Hartway, 43, of Kuna, and Chief Warrant Officer Stien Gearhart, 50, of Meridian. Both men were flight instructors at Gowen Field and considered to be top-rated pilots. The Meridian Police Department issued a statement on behalf of the families, thanking the Idaho National Guard and U.S. military personnel for their support and asking for privacy as they continued their grieving process.

Marsano said Saturday that he was not aware of any similar malfunction or crash involving the Apache helicopter in the United States.

"The pilots had only about three seconds to respond before impact," read a summary statement of the investigation. "[It] was not enough time to either restart the engines or otherwise recover the helicopter before it crashed."

The Guard said it was continuing its training missions in the Apache, and was using the crash as a training example to avoid further tragedies.



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