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Idaho contracting company plans to hire workers

An Idaho-based government contracting company owned by an Alaska Native American group plans to hire 100 workers in 2012 as demand rises for its demolition, construction and hazardous-waste cleanup services.

North Wind Group of Idaho Falls says its Alaskan operation should see significant growth as it builds a U.S. Air Force camp with housing, bathrooms, kitchens and eating areas.

It could also hire employees in northern Idaho.

The company reported in a news release it expects robust 2012 sales growth, on the strength of military and U.S. Department of Energy contracts.

The company’s president, Sylvia Medina, started the company more than a decade ago but sold it to Cook Inlet Region Inc., an Alaska corporation, in 2009. It has 350 workers in Washington, Idaho, Colorado, Alaska and elsewhere.

The Associated Press

Idaho’s Risch is ranked 16th on ‘richest members of Congress’ list

Idaho Representative James E. Risch was the 16th-richest member of Congress in 2010, with an average net worth of $54 million, according to the Washington Post.

The Post on Dec. 26 published a list of the 25 members of Congress with the highest net worth in 2010. They based their list on an analysis by the Center for Responsive Politics, which used disclosures filed by the lawmakers.

Risch, a Republican from Boise, has earned his wealth as a lawyer and through property ownership.

The financial gap between Americans and their representatives in Congress has widened in the last three decades. Between 1984 and 2009, the median net worth of a member of the House more than doubled, according to the Post’s analysis of financial disclosures, from $280,000 to $725,000 in inflation-adjusted 2009 dollars, excluding home equity.

Over the same period, the wealth of an American family has declined slightly, with the comparable median figure sliding from $20,600 to $20,500, according to the Panel Study of Income Dynamics from the University of Michigan.

IBR Staff

Idaho woman’s conviction in cattle theft upheld

An appellate court has upheld the conviction of a southern Idaho woman serving seven years in prison for stealing cattle.

The Idaho Court of Appeals issued a ruling Dec. 27 in the case of Traci Hadden, who says her trial should have been moved from Lincoln County due to the publicity surrounding her in a separate case, where she was charged with plotting to kill her former father-in-law.

The appellate court rejected that argument and affirmed a jury’s finding that Hadden was guilty of stealing 20 head of cattle from a ranch near Shoshone in 2008. She’ll serve at least another 10 years for aiding and abetting in the attempted murder of then-60-year-old Craig Hadden.

He was shot four times with a rifle outside his home on April 1, 2009.

The Associated Press

S. Idaho manufactures bean grower equipment; looks to expand in Mexico following trade mission

A southern Idaho company that manufactures bean harvesting equipment hopes to do business in Latin America following a state-led trade mission to the region.

Lt. Gov. Brad Little led more than a dozen Idaho businesses, including Pickett Equipment Co., on the trade trip in early December. The Times-News reports Pickett Equipment is now making a strong push to expand its sales into Mexico.

Jonathan Price manages international sales for the Burley-based company and says he doesn’t think they would have seriously considered trying to tap into the Mexican market had they not participated in the early December trade mission.

The lieutenant governor estimates Idaho businesses have the potential to reap more than $30 million in sales from the trade mission, which included meetings in Brazil and Mexico.

The Associated Press

Economic developers want more incentives

State lawmakers need to create a $5- to $10-million fund that could be used to entice high-paying employers to the state by rewarding them with incentive packages, Idaho economic developers said.

The Boise Valley Economic Partnership, the business-recruitment arm of the Boise Metro Chamber of Commerce, is talking with the Idaho Department of Commerce and economic developers around the state to push lawmakers in the 2012 legislative session to create such a fund.

Clark Krause of the Boise Valley Economic Partnership said Idaho could benefit from “thoughtful, well-rounded incentives that at least let us be competitive.”

Idaho does have an incentive program in the Workforce Development Training fund, which since 1996 has paid out $37 million to train 26,000 workers.

As for adding to those incentives, “I just don’t know that we are going to have the funds this year to actually do it,” said Rep. Darrell Bolz, R-Caldwell, vice chairman of the Legislature’s budget committee. “The issues I hear a lot of people talking about are primarily dealing with public schools, education and possibly replenishing some of the rainy-day accounts.”

The Associated Press

Idaho growth rate slows from mid-2010 to mid-2011

The Idaho Department of Labor reports that the state’s population grew by nine-tenths of a percent between mid-2010 and mid-2011.

The agency says that’s the lowest growth rate for Idaho since 1990.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimated Idaho’s population at 1,584,985 on July 1, up by 14,000 over the previous year.

Most of the growth in the last year came from births rather than new people moving to the Gem State.

The slower pace of growth is a stark change from the state’s 16 percent growth rate recorded between 2006 and 2007.

Still, Idaho grew at a faster rate than the nation overall and more than neighboring states like Montana, Nevada, Oregon and Wyoming. But Idaho fell behind the pace in other western states, including Washington and Utah.

The Associated Press

Idaho to share $34.5 million in derivatives case

Idaho is expected to get a share of more than $34 million stemming the settlement of an illegal bond derivatives case.

Attorney General Lawrence Wasden announced the deal Dec. 23 with GE Funding Capital Marketing Services.

The multistate settlement is the result of a nationwide investigation into anticompetitive and fraudulent conduct of the municipal bond derivatives industry.

Derivatives are contracts that state and local governments can use to reinvest the money from bond sales or against the risk of changing interest rates.

In 2008, Idaho joined other states investigating if banks, insurance companies, brokers and others were taking part in schemes to rig bids or engage in other improper conduct.

Idaho agencies eligible to receive restitution payments include the Idaho Housing and Finance Association and the Boise City Housing Authority.

The Associated Press

Latah County gets megaload reimbursement

The Latah County sheriff has received a check from a company transporting oil equipment for Exxon Mobil along a northern Idaho highway.

Sheriff Wayne Rausch billed hauling contractor Mammoet for more than $4,000 in overtime pay his deputies incurred while overseeing the shipments that started in July and have attracted protests from environmentalists. The Moscow-Pullman Daily News reported Dec. 21 that Mammoet project manager Darren Bland delivered a check in the amount of $4,032 to the sheriff’s office.

The city of Moscow, the county seat, has issued a similar request seeking $12,800. The Imperial Oil/ExxonMobil shipments were diverted through Moscow on U.S. Highway 95 after a court challenge in Montana held up transport on the originally intended route on U.S. Highway 12

Associated Press

Bonner County fears caribou protection plan will restrict logging, forest access

Commissioners in northern Idaho’s Bonner County fear a plan to protect habitat for about 50 remaining woodland caribou will create economic hardships in rural areas.

The U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has proposed designating more than 375,500 acres in the Selkirk Mountains as critical habitat for these endangered North American reindeer cousins. Nearly 80 percent of the proposed habitat is federal land in Bonner and Boundary counties in northern Idaho and Pend Oreille County in Washington.

The Spokesman-Review reports that members of the Bonner County Commission predicted Dec. 20 this plan will create new restrictions on logging, snowmobiling and forest access. Commissioners referred to the proposal as a “de facto wilderness” designation and said efforts to protect the rare caribou that roam this forested border region in northern Idaho, northeastern Washington and British Columbia, Canada, have already hurt snowmobiling and tourism around Priest Lake, Idaho.

“We’ve already had a lot of road closures,” said Cornel Rasor, the board’s chairman. “These are our public lands.”

His commission on Dec. 20 passed a resolution demanding the federal government coordinate its activities with the county’s land use plan.

Coordination theory, which is promoted by private property rights activists, contends federal laws including those governing land use planning on public land, require agencies including the Bureau of Land Management, the U.S. Forest Service and the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service to extensively review how federal plans mesh with those of local governments.

Fish and Wildlife Service officials declined to comment on the resolution requiring coordination.

“We haven’t seen the resolution so we can’t comment on it, but we would love to hear their concerns,” said Meggan Laxalt Mackey, a Boise spokeswoman for the Fish and Wildlife Service.

Her agency did say the proposed habitat designation could impose nominal new restrictions on logging, winter recreation and other forest activities to protect caribou, but it insists that most existing activities will be able to continue.

Fish and Wildlife is accepting public comments on the habitat proposal through Jan. 30. After the economic analysis is released, another 30-day comment period will be scheduled.

Associated Press

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