Category Archives: Uncategorized

UI Arena Seen as Example of Momentum in Mass Timber Industry

Mass timber construction is gaining momentum in the United States, as highlighted by the new sports arena being built by the University of Idaho. Idaho Public Radio’s Glenn Mosley reports. (1:07)

Listen:

 

When U.S. Forest Service Chief Vicki Christiansen visited the University of Idaho in June, she highlighted the use of mass timber in the new sports arena being built on the university’s Moscow campus:

Vicki Christiansen: “The development of mass timber, or wood-engineered timber, we can use much smaller diameter wood, that’s the products that really need to be thinned from the forests, and we can create it into something economical.”

Mass timber is a term used to describe a group of wood products formed by fastening or bonding smaller wood components to form prefabricated wood elements used as beams, columns, walls, and floors in buildings.

Christiansen says this is a critical time in the mass timber industry. She says a thriving mass timber market could help reduce excess vegetation in forests,  making for safer and more resilient communities, and she says it can support rural economic development.

The market for wood and other related forest products supports more than one million jobs, many in rural America. The Forest Service says that as these markets expand, so will the economic opportunities.

I’m Glenn Mosley.

Posted August 15, 2019

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Funding School Facilities

Moscow Schools Superintendent Greg Bailey says it’s the thing he talks about lot.

“Right now we are one of the hardest states in the nation to pass a bond or to build facilities,” Bailey said. “You have a super majority but we also get very minimal funding from the state.

The superintendent brought the subject up again at a May 22 luncheon hosted by the Moscow Chamber of Commerce to provide a 2019 legislative review from Idaho District 5 legislators.

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(Photo: Paul Kimmell, left, moderates the May 22 discussion between District 5 legislators (left to right) Sen. David Nelson, Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy, and Rep. Bill Goesling)

“I would really like to see our legislators start looking at that seriously,” Bailey said. “You look at the facilities in our communities– about the only place that’s passing these bonds for schools are the larger communities. As we’ve told a lot of people– our newest facility just turned 50 years old this past year. There’s a need.”

“This was in our Chamber survey, if you remember, about school facilities and how we fund those” Paul Kimmell of the Moscow Chamber of Commerce’s Government Affairs Committee, said. “For the Chamber business community, this is a high priority, to figure this out.”

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(Screen grab, Moscow Chamber of Commerce 2019 Legislative Priorities Survey, released December 2018)

“I actually think the superintendent from Moscow School District has the best idea of any I’ve heard,” State Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy (R-Genesee) said. “In that the state would put up some challenge dollars to help support facilities.

“I’ve spent my career as a fundraiser. Everybody likes to think that their dollar can be doubled. And so if there was a way that we could look at these facilities and have the state put up some money to be matched by the community… I think that even if you had a 60% bond…the mountain would be easier to climb if there was a match on the other side,” Nilsson Troy said.

“I think it’s really important to find different methods to fund our schools,”  Sen. David Nelson (D-Moscow) said.

“Since our Constitution was written a hundred and twenty some years ago, life has changed, and we have rural communities with really older schools that are hard to maintain, and we have new, growing communities where they have different problems on getting their schools built,” Nelson said.

The legislature deferred on having a special committee on facilities, Nelson said, in favor of Governor Brad Little’s task force on public education issues in the state.

“One step going forward is the Governor has appointed a new task force to set priorities on education, and I do know they’re taking that as one of their walking points,” Nelson said.

Governor Little announced the members of his new “Our Kids, Idaho’s Future” Task Force on May 15. The group is tasked with formulating a five-year blueprint “for improvement of and investment in Idaho’s K-12 public education system,” according to information from the Governor’s Office.

The task force members include teachers, school administrators, education stakeholders, business leaders, and a bipartisan group of legislators from across the state.

Jennifer Parkins, Board Chair, Genesee Joint School District and Idaho School Boards Association President, is on the task force.

Posted May 24, 2019

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District 5 Lawmakers Look Back, and Ahead

by Glenn Mosley

Idaho Public Radio

Idaho District 5 legislators took a look back and a look ahead during a luncheon hosted by the Moscow Chamber of Commerce on May 22.

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There were 522 bills introduced during the 2019 legislative session, along with another 67 resolutions, memorials, and proclamations, Paul Kimmell of the Chamber’s Government Affairs Committee told the gathering. 331 of those bills were passed; 329 became law. Most of those take effect on July 1.

The 95 day session was the third longest in Idaho history, and the longest since 2009.

“We were there for a long time,” State Rep. Caroline Nilsson Troy (R- Genesee) said. “We got grumpy with each other, I think, on the House side about day 70 to 75. So, we went twenty days too long.”

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Among other topics, Nilsson Troy told the luncheon about her hemp legislation, which wasn’t passed, and the resolution supporting the idea of a 611 national suicide prevention crisis hotline, which did pass, and said she is very passionate about the way the wine industry is growing in the region and is proud to carry related legislation.

Nilsson Troy serves on the Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee, which recently held a three day interim meeting. “One of the things we started out with was a review of where our revenue collections are right now,” she said. “We’re $91 million behind on individuals income tax collections…we are ahead, however, on corporate tax collections. We’re $46.5 million ahead of what projections were, and we’re almost $10 million ahead on sales tax collections than what the projections were…we’re about a little less than $40 million behind on our collections for the fiscal year which ends June 30th.”

State Sen. David Nelson (D-Moscow) said he was honored to serve this year. “It was a new experience for me to be in the legislature, and I found it really satisfying in a lot of ways. One, I got to help people a lot…and also being in the legislature lets you stick your finger in a lot of things and get some traction and learn some things.”

Of his committee work, Nelson said, “I became kind of a member of a rural group of senators trying to lead on transportation issues. It’s a bi-partisan group…trying to get more support so we can do good maintenance on our local roads, both county, city.” Nelson said HB 107 was amended to include funding to help maintain rural bridges in the state.

Looking ahead, Nelson said he’ll continue working on transportation issues, including looking at how the state decides on registration fees for heavy trucks. He’ll also work on having a more reliable source of funds for transportation. Nelson also expects a lot of focus next session on funding for Medicaid expansion.

State Rep. Bill Goesling (R-Moscow) said it was a privilege and an honor to serve the district this year. He said the session was “long, busy, and somewhat stressful,” “but, I think, very successful legislative session.”

Goesling says he spent most of his time looking at ways the state can improve education. He cited his bills on school safety and to allow rural school district boards to go into executive session with three members present instead of five. He said he co-sponsored the bill raising starting teacher pay.

“We started out the year way behind on revenue coming into the state, and that really impacted our ability to do a lot of things,” Goesling said.

Goesling also said the proposed change in the public school funding formula had to be pulled back because it wasn’t working.

For next session, Goesling said he will work on finalizing the student-based funding formula; increasing funding for master level teachers; and increasing medical education opportunities, and he said his goal is to increase WWAMI to 50 students, up from the current 40.

“The important thing to remember is that there are 105 legislators,” Nilsson Troy said, “and we each go with our own agenda and we can only take our own agenda with us. I think our actions, the three of (us), this past session, speak loudly in that we were very focused on issues that were important to this district.”

The update at the luncheon followed a series of forums also hosted by the Chamber of Commerce during the 2019 session.

Posted May 22, 2019

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Six Idaho Law Enforcement Officers Honored

Six law enforcement officers received the Idaho Medal of Honor for performing with exceptional courage and bravery while protecting the public.

Idaho Governor Brad Little presented the medals today, May 15, in a ceremony at the Idaho State Capitol.

“I was honored to present the Idaho Medal of Honor to six exemplary law enforcement officers for their extraordinary acts of valor and heroism,” Little said on Twitter.

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(State of Idaho photo)

The six are:

  • Officer Kyle Mikowski, Meridian Police Department;
  • Sergeant Carlos De Leon, Jr., Ada County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Deputy David Anderson, Ada County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Deputy Derek Beardall, Ada County Sheriff’s Office;
  • Deputy Michael Geisel, Ada County Sheriff’s Office; and
  • Deputy Vishal Sahni, Ada County Sheriff’s Office.

“They showed tremendous courage in the face of danger to themselves and others,” Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden said in a statement. “They, their families and their communities should be very proud to have these men don law enforcement badges every day. I commend each for their bravery and thank them for their exemplary service.”

All five Ada County Sheriff’s deputies received the award for their response to a 911 call on September 27, 2017 for a prowler and possible home invasion at a rural Meridian home. The deputies initiated a rescue attempt of the victims trapped inside and two residents were pulled to safety.

On July 1, 2018, Mikowski was shot in both legs when pursuing an individual who had a warrant out for his arrest. Mikowski returned fire, resulting in the suspect’s death. The officer then self-applied a tourniquet to his wounds and assisted responding personnel in finding his location.

The Idaho Legislature created the Idaho Medal of Honor in 2004. It is the state’s highest honor for law enforcement officers, firefighting professionals and emergency medical service providers.

Posted May 15, 2019

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Governor Little Announces K-12 Task Force

Governor Brad Little announced the members of his new “Our Kids, Idaho’s Future” Task Force on May 15.

The list includes Jennifer Parkins of the Genesee Joint School District.

The group will put together a five-year plan to establish priorities for and improve Idaho’s K-12 public education system.

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(State of Idaho photo)

“The ‘Our Kids, Idaho’s Future’ Task Force will adopt a broad-based, collaborative process to examine our public education system, with an emphasis on improving student achievement and accountability to parents and taxpayers,” Governor Little said.

Task Force members:

 

Teachers, School Administrators, and Education Stakeholders

  • Debbie Critchfield, President, Idaho State Board of Education — Co-Chair
  • Sherri Ybarra, Superintendent of Public Instruction
  • Marc Beitia, American Falls High School teacher and 2019 Idaho Teacher of the Year
  • Kari Overall, President, Idaho Education Association
  • Jennifer Parkins, Board Chair, Genesee Joint School District and Idaho School Boards Association President
  • Jody Hendrickx, Trustee, St. Maries School District and ISBA Vice President
  • Erin McCandless, Idaho State PTA President
  • Mary Ann Ranells, Superintendent, West Ada School District
  • Luke Schroeder, Superintendent, Kimberly School District
  • Cheryl Charlton, Superintendent, Idaho Digital Learning Academy
  • Pete Koehler, retired Chief Deputy Superintendent and former Nampa High School Principal and Superintendent
  • Terry Ryan, CEO, Bluum, Boise

Business Leaders

  • Bill Gilbert, Co-Founder and Managing Director, Caprock, Boise — Co-Chair
  • Kurt Liebich, CEO, RedBuilt, Boise
  • Matt Van Vleet, Government Affairs Director, Schweitzer Engineering Laboratories, Lewiston
  • Katherine Hart, Associate General Counsel, Melaleuca, Idaho Falls
  • Juan Alvarez, Deputy Director for Management and Operations, INL, Idaho Falls
  • Shawn Keough, Executive Director, Associated Logging Contractors, Coeur d’Alene and former state senator and JFAC co-chair

 Legislators

  • Senator Chuck Winder, Majority Leader, Idaho Senate
  • Senator Dean Mortimer, Idaho Senate Education Committee
  • Senator Janie Ward-Engelking, Idaho Senate Education Committee and Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee
  • Representative Mat Erpelding, Minority Leader, Idaho House of Representatives
  • Representative Jason Monks, Assistant Majority Leader, Idaho House of Representatives
  • Representative Lance Clow, Idaho House Education Committee
  • Representative Gary Marshall, Idaho House Education Committee
  • Representative Wendy Horman, Joint Finance-Appropriations Committee

Posted May 15, 2019

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Reporter’s Notebook II: Cheyenna McCurry

In between assignments for Idaho Public Radio covering the 2019 Idaho State Legislature, reporter Cheyenna McCurry also attended other events in Boise and Moscow over the past several weeks. As we had done earlier, we asked her to assemble her impressions together into a Reporter’s Notebook.

 

Idaho in Black & White: Race, Civil Rights and the Gem State’s Image

March 14, 2019

At a monthly Fettuccine Forum by Boise City Department of Arts and History, Jill Gill, a history professor and director of the Marilyn Shuler Human Rights Initiative at BSU, presented Idaho’s dark history of racial discrimination and the rise of the Aryan Nation.

Gill described that Idaho has been known as a “white flight destination” due to its lack of diversity and “safety valve” to block or flee civil rights legislation. In the 1970s, an Aryan Nation leader, Richard Butler, built a compound in the northern town of Hayden Lake, Idaho, which was eventually destroyed in 2001 after Butler went bankrupt. Gill believes a small Aryan Nation population resides in northern Idaho since Butler’s arrival.

Even though I was aware of Idaho’s disheartening history, Gill revealed individual stories and pictures that demonstrated every effort white conservatives took to keep out diversity. It was surprising to discover that a current state representative from district 1, Heather Scott, shared a photo of herself holding a confederate flag after winning the election in 2018. Scott’s victory shows where Idaho’s past still exists, which Gill believes greatly harms the encouragement for diversification.

I could tell Gill was passionate about the subject and was confident that her research could be used to help Idaho reflect on its past. Despite learning about Idaho’s history of undisguised racial hatred, Gill provided a honest depiction of what Idaho was and how Idaho changed. I would be interested in hearing about Gill’s position as director of Marilyn Shuler Human Rights Initiative and the organization’s policy involvement and studies.

 

Idaho DLCC Legislative Update Luncheon

March 16, 2019

At the Idaho Democratic Legislative Campaign Committee luncheon, Democratic legislators Representative Brooke Green and Senator Michelle Stennett addressed the audience about controversial legislative action.

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(Cheyenna McCurry photo)

Both legislators expressed disappointment in the actions by leadership and frustrations with both chambers, which were attempting to hold bills. Green specifically discussed her experience as a freshman legislator and her position on the State Affairs Committee, while Stennett talked about the conflict between parties and leadership.

This was a very interesting event for me to cover during the session. The legislators were candid about their frustrations with their leadership and the Republican Party, which is normally not discussed in the Capitol. The event also revealed some things about the legislative process that aren’t elaborated on such as holding of bills and the relationship with leadership.

Although this isn’t a traditional interdisciplinary, I believe it would have been beneficial to have other legislators speak. Also, the event was a legislative update but almost solely focused on the disputed bills and actions happening at the Capitol. While the discussion on those were informative, it would have been valuable to talk about what the legislature has achieved in the session so far.

The event was certainly an interesting experience, especially during the session. Understandably, the discussion was filled with frustrations given the time of the session, but being the minority party, the speakers encouraged others to run for state office with strong campaigns.

 

Management of Wildlife Migration and Movement in Idaho: Keeping the Path Clear

March 26, 2019

At this Idaho Environmental Forum, Gregg Servheen, the wildlife program coordinator for the Idaho Department of Fish & Game, discussed the migration conflicts of Idaho wildlife and humans, and the efforts the department is taking to improve travel for both humans and wildlife.

Servheen explained that migration is extremely important for Idaho wildlife. He said that wildlife migration improves fertility, but recent data indicates that Idaho wildlife are migrating to uncommon habitats to adapt to different environments and evolve. Servheen also discussed projects Idaho’s Department of Fish & Game and Transportation are prioritizing to decrease migration disruption.

I wasn’t aware of the substantial migration conflict, so this forum was very informative. The interesting aspect about this problem in Idaho is that the solution would benefit both Idahoans and wildlife. While wildlife such as deer and elk try to cross highways, they can cause car accidents, and if wildlife can’t cross other ways, populations decrease.

A few solutions were discussed; an underpass was constructed on a busy interstate where high wildlife traffic attempt to cross. This has been so far proven to work towards improving migration. Other projects such as barriers to guide wildlife and more construction of over and underpasses on busy highways are planned to further solve human/wildlife conflicts.

I would be interested in an update on how wildlife migration has been affected by the efforts to control migration. Highly populated roads are areas would probably benefit from these solutions most, but I believe similar solutions could better the wildlife migration in rural areas.

 

Is Gloom My Beat? Reporting On Our Changing Planet

March 27, 2019

I attended the City Club of Boise event on Wednesday, March 27th in Boise featuring Kendra Pierre-Louis, a climate change reporter for the New York Times. It was a casual question-and-answer discussion where questions from the audience were presented to Pierre-Louis.

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(Cheyenna McCurry photo)

With questions about climate change science, the nation’s future and Pierre-Louis’ experience, she provided daunting details about what she’s witnessed while researching and covering climate change. Pierre-Louis pointed out that the recognition of climate change existence is politically influenced; countries like the U.S., Canada, Australia and the U.K. have divided perspectives based on political affiliation if climate change is real.

Through her reporting, Pierre-Louis learned that the vast majority of people believe that the world in warming up and that we have the technology to slow down climate change, but politically we don’t have the will. “We can’t out run climate change…living on Mars would be worse,” she said during the discussion.

Pierre-Louis kept the discussion light and the audience engaged with anecdotes on her favorite stories and interviewees. She expressed that one of the best parts of her job is the interactions with subjects, especially the ones with a first-hand realization of the impacts of climate change. Throughout the discussion, she was very open about her coverage of climate change; she advised the crowd to reduce plastic use and food waste while pushing for state policies to contribute to slowing down climate change.

 

Grand Innovation Prizes (GIPs) Are Absolutely Challenging Universities to Think Differently About Their Interactions

April 9, 2019

Gregory Moller, an environmental chemistry and toxicology professor, described how grand innovation prizes (GIPs) inspire creative solutions for urgent global problems in his presentation. Currently, the University of Idaho’s Team WaterQuest is a finalist for the $10 million George Barley Clean Water Science Prize Experience sponsored by the Everglades Foundation.

Moller explained the vast opportunities that GIPs provide to institutions and ultimately the world. While the U of I has the chance to win $10 million, the competition generates good publicity and more importantly displays what the institution can offer to the society. The U of I WaterQuest team built the Nexom clean water machine that could potentially clean polluted lakes and rivers.

GIPs are drivers for innovation. It was emphasized that even if the U of I doesn’t win the final prize, the team’s invention is a step closer to tackling water pollution and will challenge the institution to solve other global issues.

Moller’s presentation offered insights on the nation’s efforts towards solving global issues, but the details of the university’s WaterQuest team was the most interesting to learn about. However, I would have liked to hear from other members of the team and their experiences in the competition. I would also be curious to find out how the team got to the final product as well as any obstacles and unexpected events that might have happened during the process.

 

Water, Water Everywhere and Not a Drop to Drink

April 16, 2019

Associate professor of the Department of Sociology & Anthropology, Ryanne Pilgeram presented the rural gentrification impact on the infrastructure of Dover, a former timber town in northern Idaho.

Pilgeram first discussed Dover’s timber infrastructure in the 1900s and transitioned into the loss of the timber mill, eventually leading to the current state of the rural town. Upon the unionization of the mill in 1988, closing a year later and burning down a couple years after, Dover began to decline. Pilgeram reported that the exploitation of natural resources and the capital system destroyed Dover, and the town continues to face job shortages, sewer, bridge and water problems.

I thought Pilgeram did well in her explanation of the research process and Harvey’s Theory of Spatial Fix. I especially found it interesting that through her research, she observed that any tapes regarding “the development” were blank and some other data was missing. I also appreciated that Pilgeram provided timeline pictures to show the deterioration of Dover after the fall of the timber industry.

Although I’ve lived in northern Idaho my entire life, I wasn’t aware of Dover and its unnerving history. Pilgeram reported that a bridge used daily by travelers is still unreliable and dangerous, but since the town is unincorporated, they can’t get state funds to fix this problem among others. Pilgeram concluded her presentation with some hope that Dover can be improved more and give former and new Dover residents a better place to live.

 

Idaho Women Win the Right to Vote

April 23, 2019

In this presentation, Department of History professors, Rebecca Scofield and Katherine Aiken, discussed the early history of women’s suffrage in Idaho, the prominent women involved, and the frankly bizarre way women’s suffrage was achieved in Idaho.

The professors were candid in their presentation, saying that the win for women’s suffrage was “lucky”. Aiken and Scofield revealed that Idaho suffragettes were able gain enough support for women’s suffrage in 1896 without rising controversy. This was because silver overshadowed the vote and took attention away from the significant achievement for Idaho women.

The presentation offered a different perspective from other events I’ve attended about Idaho’s history on women’s suffrage. The Idaho Women 100 launch event, commemorating the 100th anniversary for the ratification of the 19th Amendment, focused on the important women who ultimately secured the vote for Idaho women. Though Scofield and Aiken briefly discussed these women, they emphasized the odd circumstance of the nation’s attention on silver while the battle for women’s suffrage transpired.

Overall the lecture was very interesting, and the speakers kept the audience engaged with brief details and at times, humor. Notably from the presentation, the University of Idaho employed one of the first female faculty members, Annette Bowman, who was also a prominent figure in the grassroots organization Idaho Equal Suffrage Association that advocated for suffrage votes in 1896.

Posted May 10, 2019

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Big Sky Honors for @IdahoWTennis

Idaho women’s tennis players Marianna Petrei, Maria Tavares, Laura Spataro, and Marta Magalhaes have earned All-Big Sky Conference honors.

Seniors Petrei and Tavares were unanimous first team honorees.

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(Senior Day photo, April 13, 2019)

Petrei was named All-Big Sky First Team Singles for the fourth time in her historic career after posting an 15-4 overall record and remaining undefeated in the conference with an 10-0 record. The three-time league MVP was 40-0 against Big Sky opponents during the regular season in her career and led the Vandals in the No. 1 slot all season.

Tavares nabbed first team single selection for the second time in her four years at Idaho. She finished the season with 15 wins at the No. 2 spot with a 9-1 mark in conference play. The Porto, Portugal native recorded a 38-2 mark in Big Sky competition during her four-year career at Idaho.

For the second-straight year, Idaho’s No. 1 doubles duo, Petrei and Tavares, earned All-Big Sky First Team Doubles honors. The pair went 14-4 overall and 9-1 in conference play.

Spataro and Magalhães each grabbed a spot on the All-Big Sky Second Team Singles Team. Spataro finished with an 9-8 overall record and was 8-1 in conference at singles No. 3.

Magalhães was 12-7 on the season and 9-1 in conference play, with most of her wins coming from playing singles No. 5.

Idaho’s four-year reign as champion of the Big Sky Conference came to an end in the title match on April 27, when the team dropped a 4-0 decision to Northern Arizona.

Idaho women’s tennis is one of the most successful programs in the history of Vandal Athletics, winning five straight conference championships, starting with a WAC championship in 2014.

The team is already looking ahead to next season. “We’re looking forward to getting back to it next year,” coach Babar Akbar said.

Posted May 3, 2019

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