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Bogus Basin announces Friday opening

Dec. 17, 2014 3:14 p.m. - Updated: 3:19 p.m.

Bogus Basin has announced that it will open for skiing on Friday from 10 a.m. to 4:30 p.m., with three chairlifts on the front side of the mountain operating: Deer Point (#1), Showcase (#4), and Coach (#7), along with the Easy Rider magic carpet and a small terrain park in Stewart’s Bowl. Lift tickets will be discounted to $35 for adults for the limited opening. A limited opening also is planned for the Nordic center, with tickets half-price at $11, or $8 for Nordic skiers who arrive after 1 p.m. Round-trip bus service will begin Saturday, as will holiday hours: 9 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. through Jan. 4. Click below for Bogus’ full announcement.

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Public invited to Monday retirement celebration for Ysursa in the Capitol

Dec. 17, 2014 2:32 p.m. - Updated: 2:33 p.m.

The public is invited to a retirement celebration on Monday, Dec. 22, honoring Idaho Secretary of State Ben Ysursa, who is retiring after 12 years as Idaho’s secretary of state and 40 years in the office, including many years as chief deputy to then-Secretary of State Pete Cenarrussa. The celebration will be from 2-4 p.m. in the 2nd floor rotunda of the state Capitol, and is intended to wish Ysursa “Agur Eta Zorionak!” That’s Basque for “Goodbye and Good Luck in Your Retirement.”


Student journalist makes waves: Plagiarism with a purpose

Dec. 17, 2014 1:08 p.m. - Updated: 1:10 p.m.

A local high school newspaper included a plagiarized editorial in its latest issue – intentionally. Student writer Harmony Soto, after first contacting Boise Weekly writer George Prentice for permission, published his piece as her own – then acknowledged it in a biting editorial note, reports Melissa Davlin of Idaho Reports. “You may find parts of this article similar to previous articles written by George Prentice for the Boise Weekly,” Soto wrote. “We could apologize and say this is a mistake on part of the Borah Senator Staff, but if our new state superintendent was able to get away with it, is it even worth it?”

The student was commenting on a plagiarism scandal that arose during state schools Superintendent-elect Sherri Ybarra’s campaign, in which Ybarra acknowledged that campaign staffers copied some material on her campaign website from the campaign website of her Democratic opponent, Jana Jones. Prentice told Davlin, “I’m not certain how I feel about having my work plagiarized. On the other hand, I’m fascinated that it’s part of a bigger conversation about quite a bit of aggregating and borrowing and just flat-out stealing that is going on, that I can’t remember any time in my lifetime as much as I see now. If it is part of the bigger conversation, that’s not a bad conversation to have.”

Davlin’s full report is online here at her blog, “Idaho Reports in Blog Form.”

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Brundage to open Friday for the ski season

Dec. 17, 2014 12:49 p.m. - Updated: 12:59 p.m.

Brundage Mountain has announced it will open Friday for the ski season, with three lifts, the BlueBird Quad, Lakeview Lift and Easy Street, operating from 9:30 to 4:30 and seven-day operations planned. Early-season conditions remain on the lower half of the mountain, according to spokeswoman April Whitney, due to recent warm temperatures, so the Bear Chair and the lower portions of some runs won't be open, but conditions are expected to be excellent on the Lakeview side; Brundage has gotten 6 inches of new snow since Saturday, and has a 10-inch base but 36 inches at the summit. “Terrain for beginners will, unfortunately, be limited,” Whitney said. “We have some snow in the forecast and will open more terrain as soon as it's safe and feasible to do so.” Lift tickets will be discounted to $48 for adults; there's more info here. Meanwhile, Bogus Basin, which is reporting a 13” base, is hoping to open for the holiday break by this weekend but has made no announcement; there's a chance of snow in the forecast from tonight through the weekend.


Otter: Supreme Court should hear Idaho’s input before deciding on gay marriage

Dec. 17, 2014 7:55 a.m. - Updated: 8:08 a.m.

Idaho Gov. Butch Otter believes the state’s arguments against gay marriage are so compelling and comprehensive that the U.S. Supreme Court should wait until it gets Idaho’s case before deciding on the issue. In arguments filed with the nation’s highest court, lawyers for Otter said waiting for Idaho’s case would help Supreme Court justices resolve “the marriage-litigation wave in all respects.”

Attorneys Gene Schaerr and Tom Perry filed those arguments in a friend-of-the-court brief for a petition to have the Supreme Court hear a same-sex marriage case out of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals; you can read Otter’s 31-page brief here.

Otter lists several reasons why he thinks Idaho’s case is the “best vehicle” for the whole same-sex marriage issue to be decided. Among them: Idaho’s case includes both the question of in-state marriages and recognition of out-of-state marriages; it would test the 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals’ application of a heightened standard of scrutiny for discrimination based on sexual orientation; it brings up religious liberty issues; and Idaho officials, unlike those in many states, have mounted a vigorous defense of their ban on gay marriage.

The legal brief cites “the enormous societal risks accompanying a genderless-marriage regime,” and says, “Common sense and a wealth of social-science data teach that children do best emotionally, socially, intellectually and economically when reared in an intact home by both biological parents.” “Of all the pending court of appeals cases,” the lawyers write, Idaho’s “is the only one in which public officials presented a robust ‘institutional’ defense of the man-woman definition of marriage.”

Deborah Ferguson, attorney for the four Idaho couples who successfully sued to overturn Idaho’s ban on same-sex marriage, said she’d oppose any petition for the U.S. Supreme Court to take up Idaho’s case, “as the 9th Circuit correctly decided the marriage equality issue.” Idaho’s constitutional ban on gay marriage, civil unions and domestic partnerships was overturned last May in federal court; the state appealed to the 9th Circuit but lost there, too. Idaho has a request pending for reconsideration from the 9th Circuit, but Otter’s brief says if it’s not granted within days, he will file an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court on Jan. 5. Same-sex marriage became legal in Idaho on Oct. 15. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.


Lawmakers charged with overseeing IEN huddle with lawyers, take no action

Dec. 16, 2014 2:05 p.m. - Updated: 2:06 p.m.

The group of lawmakers charged with overseeing the troubled Idaho Education Network met today, but took no action, just meeting with lawyers behind closed doors, reports Kevin Richert of Idaho Education News; his full report is online here. The group, known as IPRAC, for IEN Program Resource Advisory Council, was huddled with its lawyers for just over an hour, Richert reports. In November, District Judge Patrick Owen voided the multimillion-dollar contract for the network, ruling it was issued illegally to Qwest, now Century Link, and Education Networks of America. The state has requested the judge to reconsider.


Idaho exchange enrolls nearly 75,000 during first month of open enrollment

Dec. 16, 2014 11:42 a.m. - Updated: 11:43 a.m.

Your Health Idaho, Idaho’s health insurance exchange, reported today that it processed 74,689 enrollments in the first month of this year’s open enrollment period, including both new applicants and people renewing their coverage from last year. “There is a huge demand for health insurance in our state,” said the exchange’s executive director, Pat Kelly. “We are pleased so many Idahoans have already found a health insurance plan that fits their needs. However, we still have a lot of work to do before open enrollment ends and many more Idahoans to help.” The figures are for enrollments from Nov. 15 to Dec. 14.

Kelly told exchange board members Tuesday that the number fell somewhere mid-range of the exchange's projections, the AP reported. Last year, about 76,000 Idahoans enrolled in health insurance through the exchange. This year’s open enrollment period runs through Feb. 15, 2015.


Error causes over-billing on North Idaho school district’s tax levy

Dec. 16, 2014 11:33 a.m. - Updated: 11:35 a.m.

Wallace School District residents got a surprise in their property tax bills last month – a school bond payment that should have cost the average homeowner about $61 this year instead came out at $183. It was a mistake – the Idaho district had refinanced the 30-year bond that a decade ago built Wallace Junior-Senior High School, where 244 students now attend the 7th through 12th grade. That move two years ago was designed to save the local taxpayers money, not cost them more; all told, Superintendent Bob Ranells estimates it’ll save taxpayers $100,000 and also shorten the repayment period.

But as the district transitioned from the old loan to the new one, an error occurred, and the amount the district certified to the county for tax bills for 2014 included both the new payment and the old one, tripling the amount that taxpayers were billed for the year. The actual bond payment that’s due for the year is $187,494; the amount the district certified to the county was $559,610. For the owner of a $150,000 house with a homeowner’s exemption, that’s the difference between $61.39 for the year and $183.22, according to Shoshone County Deputy Auditor Linda Daugherty.

Asked if she’s been hearing a lot about the overbilling, Daugherty said, “Oh, yes.” Under state law, Shoshone County commissioners are the ones who will decide what to do: Re-calculate, re-bill and issue refunds; or do nothing, letting this year’s overpayments hold over to cover future years’ bond payments. Few are backing that option; Ranells said he’s recommending rebilling, even with an estimated $4,000 cost. The county has set a public hearing on the issue for tomorrow; you can read my full story here at spokesman.com.


Idaho man convicted of killing grizzly bear

Dec. 16, 2014 9:26 a.m. - Updated: 9:27 a.m.

An Idaho man has been sentenced to 2 years' probation after Idaho Fish and Game officials said he illegally killed a grizzly bear, the AP reports. The Idaho Department of Fish and Game announced the conviction on Monday, saying it was the first time the state has successfully prosecuted such a case since grizzly bears were protected under the Endangered Species Act in 1975. Normally the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service handles those types of cases. Idaho Fish and Game says 23-year-old Kenneth Tyler Sommer, of Newdale, Idaho, was hunting for black bears in eastern Idaho when the grizzly was shot. Sommer told conservation officers he shot the grizzly after it charged him and his wife, but Idaho Fish and Game investigators said they found no evidence that the bear had ever charged.


Idaho distributors threaten 10 Barrel’s brewpub license for Boise

Dec. 16, 2014 8:43 a.m. - Updated: 8:45 a.m.

Here’s a news item from the Associated Press: BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Idaho beer distributors are taking issue with a Boise brewpub now that the business has been purchased by Anheuser-Busch. The Idaho Statesman (http://bit.ly/1GLEvpb) reports the beer outlets contend that 10 Barrel brewpub is now too big to operate as a small brewery under Idaho state law. Idaho has a three-tiered system that requires alcohol producers, distributors and retail sellers to operate independently of each other. The law is designed to prevent large producers from controlling the distribution chain and squeezing out competitors. Members of the Idaho Beer and Wine Distributors Association say the Anheuser-Busch purchase means 10 Barrel now occupies two tiers. Currently, the Idaho State Police's Alcohol Beverage Control unit only counts beer produced in Idaho. Lt. Russ Wheatley says the state will review the complaint. 10 Barrel brewery produces about 42,000 barrels sold in Oregon, Idaho and Washington state.

Idaho Statesman reporter Zach Kyle's full report is online here.

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