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$80 million horse complex to be called The Horse Station

The Horse Station at Cache Valley is the new name of an $80 million equine complex planned for the Idaho-Utah border in Franklin.

Backers of the project, which is in the planning stage, announced the new name Feb. 7. Travis McNiven, one of the leaders of a company that bought 167 acres for the project, said the name fits well with the location of the facility, given its proximity to Utah and Wyoming.

“A station is defined as a ranch or location for livestock, including horses, and our project certainly has those elements. Station is also defined as a regular stopping place on a transportation route,” McNiven said.

The proposed $80 million facility could include indoor and outdoor arenas for rodeos and other events, an equine clinic, a hotel, condominiums and retail space.

“The Horse Station at Cache Valley just feels right, and we’re looking forward to next steps in the branding and marketing process using that name as a unifying element,” said Ernest Bleinberger, a principal with Strategy 5, which is developing the project.

IBR staff

Insect, caterpillar damage increased 700 percent in parts of northern Idaho

The native Douglas-fir tussock moth caterpillar is making major inroads in northern Idaho and Washington.

The moth, a native forest insect, and the needle-eating caterpillar defoliate grand fir and Douglas-fir trees.

The Idaho Department of Lands says surveys from 2011 showed about 68,000 acres in northern Idaho have been defoliated. That’s an increase of 700 percent since 2010, when surveys showed only 8,500 acres were defoliated.

Kootenai, Benewah, and Latah counties in Idaho are affected.

The Idaho Department of Lands is holding public meetings in Plummer to talk with landowners about measures they can take, such as tree thinning and application of pesticides. The first meeting is Feb. 23 and the second is Feb. 25.

The agency said it saw major defoliation in the Coeur d’Alene Indian Reservation in the vicinity of Plummer and Worley, and the McCroskey State Park area of Benewah and Latah Counties.

The moth populations run in two to four-year cycles. The last outbreak in the northern Idaho-Washington State border area was 2000 to 2002.

IBR staff

The Buckner Company acquires Leonardson Insurance

Salt Lake City-based The Buckner Company has acquired Leonardson Insurance of Rexburg.

The Feb. 1 transaction represents an expansion in Idaho for Salt-Lake City-based Buckner, which now fields four offices including one in Idaho Falls.

Brad Nielson, president of The Buckner Company of Idaho, grew up in Rexburg and lives there. Opening in Rexburg enables Buckner to increase its agricultural insurance business segment, The Buckner Company spokeswoman Randah Urbina said. Buckner provides business, trucking and transportation insurance, employee benefits, surety bonds, and personal home and auto insurance.

Urbina said insurance agent Jason Nielson, Brad Nielson’s brother, will move from the Idaho Falls office to the Rexburg office. Agent Jason Littlefield, hired in December, also will be based in Rexburg.

Buckner hired the three administrative employees who worked at Leonardson Insurance, Urbina said.

Transaction details were not disclosed. Buckner also has an office in Ogden, Utah.

IBR Staff

Nordstrom Rack to open April 12

Nordstrom Rack at Boise Towne Plaza is slated to open April 12, Nordstrom Rack spokeswoman Kendall Ault said. The 37,000-square foot space is on North Milwaukee Street near Old Navy and Famous Footwear.

Plans for the store were announced early last year. Nordstrom Rack is the off-price division of Seattle-based Nordstrom Inc. Rack stores carry discounted items from Nordstrom stores including apparel, accessories and shoes.

Ault said the Boise store will be one of the first to feature a design the division rolled out last September with new graphics and a different store layout.

Nordstrom Rack plans to hire about 60 people from the Boise area, both full-time and part-time.

Brad Carlson

Three new PhD programs are starting this fall at Boise State University

Doctoral programs in biomolecular science; materials, science and engineering; and in educational technology are all starting up this fall at Boise State University.

That nearly doubles the four doctoral programs now in place at the state’s largest university.

The educational technology doctorate also breaks new ground. It’s the university’s first all-online doctoral program. Students will receive an Ed.D. in Educational Technology.

Kerry Rice, associate professor and chair of the Department of Educational Technology, said students in the online Ed.D. program will be able to study topics including online teaching, technology integration, and educational software development for the web.

Boise State now has doctoral programs in curriculum instruction, geosciences, geophysics and electrical engineering.

IBR Staff

Senate overwhelmingly approves bill to limit Idaho’s collection of specialty license plates

The Senate has overwhelmingly approved legislation to limit the number of Idaho’s specialty license plates.

The chamber voted 31-2 Feb. 3 to restrict future specialty license plates only for government purposes or foundations that support government activities.

The bill now moves to the House where a similar version died last year.

The bill’s champion is Sen. Jim Hammond from Coeur d’Alene. He says growth in the program has put government in a position to raise money for private organizations that have gotten clearance for special plates.

The state currently has more than 30 specialty plates that raise $1.6 million a year, with most of that raised by wildlife plates aimed at benefiting the Idaho Department of Fish and Game.

The bill would grandfather in existing special plates.

The Associated Press

Idaho panel recommends spending $5.7 million in tobacco settlement money on treatment programs

State lawmakers want to use $5.7 million from a nationwide tobacco settlement for smoking cessation programs and substance abuse treatment.

Idaho gets money annually from the 1998 settlement with the nation’s five largest tobacco companies. The money goes into an account called the “Millennium Fund,” and lawmakers allocate 5 percent each year to spend on smoking prevention and related health programs.

The committee that shepherds the fund voted 8-2 Feb. 1 to recommend spending on a dozen programs, with the largest payment at $2 million going to the state Department of Health and Welfare.

Democratic Reps. John Rusche, of Lewiston, and Wendy Jaquet, of Ketchum, voted against the plan. They favored an additional $1 million for the Department of Health and Welfare’s tobacco cessation services.

The Associated Press

Idaho DEQ director takes Nature Conservancy post

Idaho Department of Environmental Quality Director Toni Hardesty is quitting to take over leadership of The Nature Conservancy’s Idaho office.

Hardesty has been director of Idaho’s environmental regulator since 2004 after being named to the post by former Gov. Dirk Kempthorne.

Matt Miller, a spokesman with the environmental group, Hardesty told Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter Feb. 2 and her staff Feb. 3 of her decision to leave DEQ.

In a statement, Hardesty said she believes in The Nature Conservancy’s mission, including its focus on outcomes grounded in voluntary, pragmatic approaches.

She’ll split her time between Boise and the group’s office in Hailey.

The previous Idaho director, Laura Hubbard, in October took a position as conservation director for the group’s organizations in 13 Western states.

Hardesty starts on Feb. 27.

The Associated Press

Some Medicaid clients sue Idaho over budget cuts

Twelve severely disabled Idaho residents are suing the state after the Department of Health and Welfare refused to disclose why it cut their Medicaid benefits by as much as 40 percent.

The plaintiffs are represented by Idaho Legal Aid attorney Ritchie Eppink, who describes his clients as Idaho’s most vulnerable residents. All of them need supervision – some require 24-hour care – and all have multiple medical or mental health problems or developmental disabilities. They also all recently had their Medicaid benefits cut under a formula the state says it can’t reveal, according to the lawsuit.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare says the formula is a trade secret.

On Feb. 3, U.S. District Judge B. Lynn Winmill ordered the state to increase the plaintiffs’ budgets pending a hearing.

The Associated Press

Idaho Supreme Court to hear arguments in lawsuit over dead dairy calves

The Idaho Supreme Court will hear arguments in several cases this week, including an appeal in a lawsuit over the death of 100 dairy calves.

The lawsuit was brought in Twin Falls County by Jesus Hurtado and John Reitsma, who claimed that the Land O’Lakes milk replacer they used to feed their calves was defective and caused the death of over 100 of the animals. The jury found in their favor and awarded damages, but now Land O’Lakes is appealing. Land O’Lakes contends that the lower court improperly allowed expert testimony and that the plaintiffs failed to prove their damages and that the company had any liability.

The high court was due to hear the case Feb. 8.

The Associated Press


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