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Idaho Power buys west Boise building

Idaho Power recently purchased the former EDS call center at 12601 W. Bridger St., in Boise Research Center. Renovations to the 75,600-square-foot building are under way and expected to continue through 2012.

The utility will consolidate several departments, by the end of 2013 basing about 230 employees in the west Boise building, spokesman Brad Bowlin said. The move eventually will reduce maintenance and operations costs, and will provide for more efficient and secure data storage and backup, he said. The purchase price was not disclosed.

The employees will move from multiple downtown Boise buildings as renovations and business operations allow, he said. Idaho Power will employ more than 800 downtown after the consolidation, he said.

IBR Staff

Idaho officials approve ‘fracking’ rules

Idaho government officials approved new rules governing hydraulic fracturing, or fracking, in natural gas wells.

Idaho’s Oil & Gas Conservation Commission ON Nov. 15 backed the new rules drafted this year as interest in drilling has been boosted by discoveries west of Boise.

The Spokesman-Review reported that Lt. Gov. Brad Little recused himself, saying he’s talking with companies about projects on his land.

Little comes from an Idaho ranching family and owns thousands of acres.

According to the new rules, the commission may require groundwater monitoring before and after hydraulic fracturing with existing or new wells.

Some blame fracking for contaminating groundwater, though Bridge Resources, a company drilling for natural gas in Idaho’s Payette County, says its fracturing activities will be limited.

The 2012 Legislature still must approve the rules.

The Associated Press

DOE to investigate INL radiation exposure

Members of a Department of Energy accident investigation team are in Idaho to examine the radiation exposure at the Idaho National Laboratory site west of Idaho Falls.

Idaho DOE spokesman Tim Jackson said the eight-member team arrived Nov. 14 and will stay for about a month looking into how 16 employees in the Materials and Fuels Complex were exposed to a nuclear fuel plate containing plutonium on Nov. 8. At least one employee inhaled plutonium when workers opened a small container and cut through a plastic sheet, exposing the plate.

INL spokesman Ethan Huffman tells The Post Register that those who were exposed were cleared to return to work the week of Nov. 7

The Associated Press

N. Idaho woman pleads guilty to embezzling from Coldwater Creek

A northern Idaho woman has pleaded guilty to embezzling more than $260,000 from Coldwater Creek.

Susan Alene Hopkins, also known as Susan Scott, pleaded guilty to one count of grand theft Nov. 10. The Bonner County Daily Bee reports a second grand theft count is being dismissed as part of a deal between Hopkins and prosecutors.

Authorities say the former Coldwater Creek executive used a company credit card to embezzle the money between 2006 and 2010. Police say she also took money from the Panhandle Alliance For Education between 2008 and 2010.

The 54-year-old Hopkins is scheduled to be sentenced in February. Prosecutors are recommending a suspended prison term of three to 10 years and 90 days in jail.

The plea agreement also calls for Hopkins to repay $251,943.

The Associated Press

Tanker spills fuel alongside Lochsa

Idaho State Police say a fuel tanker crashed about 8 a.m. Saturday on U.S. Highway 12 along the Lochsa River in northern Idaho.

An Idaho State Police dispatcher said a large amount of fuel has spilled into a ditch on the side of the highway away from the river and that a hazardous materials team with the Lewiston Fire Department is responding.

The dispatcher said the tanker and one pup trailer remain upright, while a second pup trailer is on its side.

Police said the crash occurred about 29 miles east of Lowell, or about four miles east of the Wilderness Gateway Campground.

The Associated Press

U.S. businesses may soon get tax credits for hiring unemployed veterans

Uncle Sam may soon kick in some tax incentives for businesses willing to hire veterans.

The U.S. Senate on Nov. 10 voted 94-1 to pass federal tax credits for employers hiring veterans. A U.S. House vote is likely the week of Nov. 14.

The measure is part of President Obama’s American Jobs Act. For businesses, the Vow to Hire Heroes Act would create a tax credit of up to $5,600 for hiring veterans out of work for more than six months. There would be a smaller tax credit of $2,400 for hiring veterans out of work from one to six months.

If the veteran also has a service-connected disability, the tax credit would rise to $9,600.

The potential tax credits are coming along at the same time that the White House is rolling out a Veterans Jobs Bank that already has more than 550,000 job postings from military-friendly employers.

IBR Staff

Idaho keeping pace for record out-of-country sales

Overseas demand for Idaho dairy products and silver helped drive export growth to 16.6 percent from July to September, keeping the state on pace for record out-of-country sales for 2011.

Idaho’s third-quarter export growth trailed the national rate of 17.7 percent, compared to the year-ago period.

Department of Commerce director Jeff Sayer says international markets continued to be a bright spot for Idaho’s economy.

Dairy exports rose by 70 percent to $194 million as fast-growing Asia Pacific countries had an appetite for whey protein and powdered milk.

High prices for precious metals increased demand for mining products, where exports more than doubled to $362 million.

And while domestic construction remains mired in a slump, Idaho wood products exports to Canada, Japan, Mexico and China rose 58 percent to $79 million.

The Associated Press

BLM to review comments on Wyo.-Idaho power line plan

The Bureau of Land Management is reviewing comments submitted by hundreds of individuals and groups about a proposed $2 billion high-voltage power line in Wyoming and Idaho.

The proposed Gateway West transmission line by Idaho Power Co. and Rocky Mountain Power would span some 1,150 miles and carry power generated by wind and other sources in Wyoming.

The BLM received 350 to 400 comments by the Oct. 28 deadline.

The comments varied from being supportive and hopeful that the line will create jobs, to being concerned about its impact on property owners and their views of the skyline, BLM spokeswoman Beverly Gorny said.

“They were what we anticipated for the most part,” Gorny said.

The line would run from a proposed substation near Glenrock to a substation to be built near Melba, Idaho. It would carry between 230,000 and 500,000 volts.

The Associated Press

Lookout Pass opens for the 2011-12 season Friday, Nov. 18

Lookout Pass Ski and Recreation Area will open for the season on Nov. 18 after  21” of snow fell on Nov. 12 and 13.

Most of the front side of the mountain will be open with top-to-bottom skiing.

“Our groomers are busy packing down the weekend snowfall and conditions should continue to improve throughout the week,” said Phil Edholm, President and CEO of Lookout Pass.

Reduced lift ticket rates will be in effect. Prices will be posted on skilookout.com prior to Friday’s opening. Additional lifts and terrain will open as soon as conditions allow.

The resort, entering its 76th season, is on the border of Idaho and Montana.

IBR Staff

N. Idaho county commissioners refuse 3 percent pay raise amid budget constraints

Commissioners who govern Bonner County in northern Idaho are following through with their pledge to refuse a 3 percent salary increase given the current budget constraints on local government.

County assessor Jerry Clemons also turned down the cost-of-living wage increase.

The Bonner County Daily Bee reports nearly all county employees received a wage increase for the current budget year. But commissioners Cornel Rasor and Mike Nielsen snuffed out plans to boost their $56,000 yearly salaries during budget talks.

Commissioner Lewis Rich said Oct. 18 he would also refuse the 3 percent raise.

Sheriff Daryl Wheeler was among employees who did receive a pay increase. The county boosted Wheeler’s salary from $57,000 to $69,000, saying it was necessary because some of his subordinates were being paid more than he was.

The Associated Press

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