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Who makes what where? San Francisco and Dallas lead in highest median pay

The salary research site Payscale.com says San Francisco and Dallas have the highest median pay for “mid-career” lawyers with 10-15 years of experience: $157,000 in San Francisco and $141,000 in Dallas.

Washington, D.C. ($138,000), New York City ($136,000) and Houston ($132,000) round out the top five major metropolitan markets in terms of median pay for lawyers in the middle of their careers.

The site doesn’t list lawyer salaries in Idaho. Philadelphia has the lowest annual pay for mid-career lawyers, at $116,000, according to Payscale.com.

“Intellectual property has remained strong in San Francisco, and this boosts salary and demand,” said Toni Whittier, founder of Whittier Legal Consulting in Dallas. “The globalization that we were beginning to see has resurfaced, and the Asia-California connection makes the San Francisco market stronger as a result.”

Whittier said pay for mid-career attorneys seems to be dropping nationwide. Attorneys tend to be moving to smaller firms, a trend that started during the recession.

Dolan Media Newswires

Personal wages, business profits rose in 2011

Personal income in Idaho increased 5.1 percent last year to $52 billion, with business profits rising more sharply. According to new estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Economic Analysis, profits rose 12.2 percent to $6.3 billion, with growth in the state’s 33 rural counties more than triple the growth of urban counties.

Two counties, Power and Fremont, both posted business profit increases of more than 100 percent, though they combined for $37 million in profits. That pales in comparison to Ada County, which had fifty times the profit, at $2.2 billion, though the state’s most populous county had just a 3.8 percent growth.

Ada County had the third highest average wages, at $42,000 a year, trailing Butte and Caribou counties. Total wages in Idaho went up 2.4 percent to almost $24 billion, with rural and urban counties showing similar growth.

The 5.1 percent growth in personal income, which also includes Social Security and pension payments, was just below the national average of 5.2 percent. According to the Idaho Department of Labor, 2011 was the first time since 2007 that every county showed an increase in personal income, and only the sixth time in the past 40 years that has happened.

Brad Iverson-Long

U.S. Geothermal’s Oregon project fully online

U.S. Geothermal’s Neal Hot Springs project near Vale, Ore., starts ramping up to full capacity the last week in November. The $144 million project will provide about 22 net megawatts per hour to Idaho Power.

According to a company news release, Boise-based U.S. Geothermal signed a power purchase agreement with Idaho Power that starts at $96 per megawatt hour this year. The agreement, signed in December 2009, lasts 25 years, and rates go up at a variable percentage each year. For 2013, the rate rises to $99 per megawatt hour.

Karl Gawell, executive director of the Geothermal Energy Association in Washington, D.C., said these rates are fairly typical for a geothermal project.

His association also reports geothermal sources accounted for 3 percent of renewable energy-based electricity consumption nationwide. Idaho is one of eight states with such projects. The majority are concentrated in California and Nevada. In 2011, less than 1 percent of Idaho Power’s electricity was derived from geothermal sources, according to the utility’s website.

Once a project is successful and operating commercially, that proves the geology of the area is right for geothermal power, according to Gawell. For that reason, he believes the Oregon project will likely open the area to further exploration. Gawell said, “I really think we will see over the next decade a lot more development in the Pacific Northwest, and the Snake River Valley is a great resource.”

U.S. Geothermal also operates power facilities in Raft River, Idaho, and San Emidio, Nev. The company also plans to develop a geothermal project in Guatemala.

Scott Ki

New airport tower still empty

The Boise Airport’s 268-foot tall air traffic control tower is the tallest building in the state, topping the U.S. Bank Building by a foot, but it isn’t yet the work space for air traffic controllers keeping the airspace and runways safe.

The tower, built in 2010 for $12.8 million, should be commissioned by next September, according to Allen Kenitzer, communications and media relations manager for the Federal Aviation Administration in Seattle.

Air traffic controllers are currently working at a smaller 68-foot tower at the airport. Moving to the taller tower would allow the airport to potentially use the third runway, which currently is used for military operations at neighboring Gowen Field.

The new tower will also have Terminal Radar Approach Control (TRACON). In 2006, the FAA announced that it wanted to move the TRACON to Salt Lake City as part of a cost-cutting plan. However, in 2010, the FAA announced it would keep the TRACON in Boise.

“The Boise tower project included space that could accommodate a TRACON if the FAA determined the facility should remain in Boise,” Kenitzer said in an email. “After completing the new tower, the FAA decided to maintain the TRACON in Boise. The FAA is in the process of installing electronics and the most advanced air traffic control equipment in the Boise TRACON building.”

The new tower, once it is open, will have the same staffing as the current tower. That includes 20 technicians who will be assigned to the new tower and TRACON, 25 to 29 air traffic controllers, four supervisors, one manager, and four administrative and training personnel.

Brad Iverson-Long

IGEM leaders plan to meet with Utah program honcho

A new Idaho council meant to promote cooperation between government, universities and the private sector is meeting with the director of the Utah group that inspired the effort.

The Idaho Global Entrepreneurial Mission’s council plan to meet with Utah Science Technology and Research Initiative director Ted McAleer Nov. 27 in Boise.

Among items on the agenda is a discussion of how Utah has doled out government grants to private companies to help them succeed.

Idaho’s program, known as IGEM, was approved by the 2012 Idaho Legislature and given a $5 million initial cash infusion.

That pales in comparison with Utah’s program that’s gotten tens of millions in state support — and hundreds of millions in new university buildings — since 2006.

But Idaho says it wants to start more modestly.

The Associated Press

Northern Idaho woman claims age, religious bias

A former Bonner County employee filed a claim against the local government, claiming she was fired from her job due to age and religious discrimination.

The Bonner County Daily Bee reports Patti Lee Lynch filed her tort claim the week of Nov. 26, a precursor to a possible lawsuit.

Lynch has also filed a complaint with the Idaho Human Rights Commission.

County officials declined comment.

Lynch began working for the county in 2009.

In March, however, she says the assistance office’s director told her she no longer needed to work because she had retirement benefits from another state.

According to Lynch’s claim, he called her a sinner — because she smoked and didn’t attend church.

Lynch was fired in June, she says, disputing her boss’ contention that she made too many errors.

The Associated Press

Hecla buys share of Canadian gold exploration company

A wholly owned Canadian subsidiary of Hecla Mining Company has agreed to buy 15 percent of Canamex Resources Corp. for about $2.5 million. Coeur d’Alene-based Hecla will own 14 million shares of the Vancouver, B.C., gold exploration firm once the deal is approved by the TSX Venture Exchange.

Canamex has two active gold projects worldwide. Its Bruner Project is located in Nye County, Nev. The other site is located in Guyana.

Hecla made its investment because of the Bruner Project. Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer James Sabala said, “Of the two projects, our primary interest is in the Nevada property.”

According to Jeffrey Wright, managing director at Global Hunter Securities, the purchase fits Hecla’s strategy of investing in small exploration companies. “They’re not looking to go into Africa or large-scale exploration projects far from home,” he said. Wright added that Nevada is a relatively easy place to do business for mining and exploration companies.

Wright also said Hecla limited its risk to a small investment in Canamex. In return, Hecla reaps the benefits of a 15 percent ownership stake if the Bruner project hits gold. Wright said that if this happens and Hecla wants to increase its stake, the existing relationship makes the purchase easier.

In August, Hecla attempted to take over U.S. Silver Corp. for $108 million, but that attempt failed. Several weeks later, Hecla bought 20 million shares in Dolly Varden Silver Corp., a Canadian mining firm, for $3.2 million. Hecla had $232 million in cash and cash equivalents at the end of September.

Hecla’s Lucky Friday mine in Wallace is scheduled to reopen during the first quarter of 2013.

Scott Ki

Male cook sues school district, claiming discrimination

A former cook in the Nampa School District filed a federal discrimination lawsuit, claiming he suffered bias in the kitchen at the hands of a female boss and female colleagues.

In U.S. District Court documents filed Wed. 21, Todd Young says he was wrongfully fired in May.

Young says sexual harassment from female colleagues escalated after he complained in 2011 the district was improperly disposing of Styrofoam trays, when it should have been recycling.

He says his boss told him “maybe I’m having staff problems because you’re a man.”

The four-year Nampa employee also complains he was routinely excluded from new menu sampling and creation — with only kitchens with female supervisors being allowed to participate.

Young wants a jury trial where he’s seeking lost wages, damages and legal fees.

The Associated Press

Albertson Foundation gives $5 M to universities

The J.A. and Kathryn Albertson Foundation is giving $5 million to two Idaho universities to better equip and train teachers.

The grant announced Nov. 26 will be divvied up between the University of Idaho and Northwest Nazarene University. The money will be used to create two new centers for innovation and learning.

The centers — scheduled to open early next year — will focus on developing new teaching methods for incorporating technology in the classroom and studying the latest hardware and software available for teachers and students.

University of Idaho President Duane Nellis says he’s hopeful the research that emerges will help the state make better choices for bringing technology into classrooms in the future.

UI in Moscow will get $3 million, while NNU in Nampa gets $2 million.

The Associated Press

SBA wants nominations for Small Business Person of the Year

The Small Business Administration Boise District Office is taking nominations for the Small Business Person of the Year Award, which it will announce on April 1. Winners from all 50 states will be invited to a conference in Washington, D.C. for National Small Business Week in May.

The award is open to any small business owner, which under federal definitions includes most companies with fewer than 500 employees or $33.5 million in revenue. The nomination package includes at least 20 pages of paperwork, including the past three years’ financial statements for judges to review.

Larry Demirelli, business opportunity specialist at the Boise District Office, said SBA offices or Idaho Small Business Development Center offices can help small businesses wanting to apply.

Demirelli also said Idaho companies have fared well in recent SBA national competitions. Recent national winners include Rekluse Motor Sports of Boise, the 2012 National Exporter of the Year; Performance Systems, Inc. President Kaleo Nawahine, 2012 National Minority Small Business Person of the Year; and Atlas Frontiers CEO Mason Fuller, the 2011 National Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

Nominations are due Jan. 3. Judged, picked by the SBA from the local business community, will decide on a winner before the end of January, who will then have a shot in the national competition before being announced April 1.

Brad Iverson-Long

Former CSI athlete pleads guilty in steroid case

A former College of Southern Idaho baseball player has pleaded guilty to selling anabolic steroids.

The Times-News reports 21-year-old William Robert “Billy Bob” Ward of Las Vegas pleaded guilty on Nov. 19 to three counts of delivery of a controlled substance.

Prosecutors are recommending a three- to nine-year prison sentence that could be reduced under the retained jurisdiction program when Ward is sentenced on Jan. 7.

Ward said he pleaded guilty because on three occasions between February and May he delivered testosterone propionate to a confidential informant. He was arrested in May after an Idaho State Police investigation into Ward’s reported sale of anabolic steroids to several of his teammates.

Ward had just finished his sophomore season at the junior college at the time of his arrest.

The Associated Press

Struggling ID energy company exits men’s cycling

The owner of a struggling Idaho renewable energy developer who blames utilities for killing his business’ projects now blames doping for forcing him to pull his sponsorship money from men’s pro cycling.

Exergy Development Group Chief Executive Officer James Carkulis says his company will end its three-year support of a men’s cycling team.

From his Boise offices, Carkulis issued a statement Nov. 27 accusing the cycling industry of failing to grasp the sport’s “scandal and deceit.”

Apart from Carkulis’ ethical concerns, however, his business has been foundering.

Exergy’s problems include $323 million in suspended Idaho wind projects, loss of control of a Minnesota wind farm, federal lawsuits targeting it for not meeting financial obligations and the possible cancellation of two biogas-to-power projects amid a dispute with utility Idaho Power Co.

The Associated Press

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