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Irrigation district sets tax delinquency auction

The Nampa & Meridian Irrigation District has scheduled the sale of 22 properties with an assessed value of over $2.33 million because its owners have failed to pay a total of just less than $6,800 in irrigation taxes over the past three years.

The district announced July 17 the tax delinquency auction is scheduled for Aug. 21.

Idaho law mandates the tax deed sale, which sets the minimum bid at the amount of taxes owed plus expenses related to the delinquency.

Twenty of the properties are in Ada County and two are in Canyon County. In one example, a Boise home assessed at $258,200 could be sold with a minimum bid of just under $520.

The irrigation district sent certified letters to property owners last month warning them about the pending auction.

The Associated Press

Idaho settles suit with fired transportation head Lowe

The state of Idaho has settled a discrimination and wrongful firing lawsuit filed by the former director of the transportation department.

Idaho Transportation Department Spokesman Mel Coulter acknowledged the settlement with Pam Lowe July 16, but declined to disclose terms. Lowe told the Spokesman-Review she is pleased with the resolution. But she also declined to share details.

Lowe was terminated in May 2009 amid criticism from lawmakers in the wake of a legislative battle to fund road and bridge maintenance. But in court documents, Lowe claimed she was fired because she tried to reduce on a contract with a company that was a big campaign donor to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter.

Lowe argued she was fired for refusing to bend to political pressure and was a victim of gender discrimination.

The Associated Press

Hoku delists from the Nasdaq

Honolulu-based commercial solar power company Hoku Corp. will delist its stock from Nasdaq.

The company said in a statement Friday it’s been unable to maintain a minimum $1 bid price for its stock, placing it in violation of Nasdaq’s listing requirements.

Hoku says it will soon file a form with the Securities and Exchange Commission to voluntarily terminate the listing. Nasdaq halted trading of Hoku’s common stock on July 5.

Hoku CEO Scott Paul resigned June 30 to lead the company’s new restructuring committee. The company also said it was exploring selling its subsidiary Hoku Solar.

In May, the company announced subsidiary Hoku Materials would lay off about 100 employees at an Idaho manufacturing plant. The Pocatello plant was to have made silicon for solar panels. Construction work at the facility stopped in April.

The Associated Press

Idaho Power says power use hit record levels

Idaho Power Co. said customers’ power use hit a record in mid-July as 100-degree temperatures prompted people to use their air conditioners just as irrigators were firing up electricity-driven pumps to drench fields.

The state’s biggest utility used July 12’s record to promote its new Langley Gulch gas-fired power plant near New Plymouth— and direct a swift kick to independent wind power producers it said aren’t chipping in much electricity to meet demand.

Previously, Idaho Power’s peak summer use was 3,214 megawatts on June 30, 2008.

Thursday afternoon’s new record hit 3,245 megawatts.

Langley Gulch, whose combined cycle turbines started June 29, produced 275 megawatts to meet demand.

At the same time, Idaho Power said wind turbines it has long criticized for not providing electricity when it needs it produced only 14 megawatts.

The Associated Press

Idaho Housing applies to oversee federal housing contracts

The Idaho Housing and Finance Association recently applied to oversee federal housing compliance contracts on behalf of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

IHFA submitted bids for Project-Based Contract Administrator contracts covering 3,784 housing units in 119 Idaho apartment complexes combined. The nonprofit association also submitted bids in four neighboring states through partnerships with other housing agencies. Contracts are to be awarded Aug. 31.

Required tasks include working with owners and managers to ensure that apartments funded in part by federal tax credits are safe and sanitary, IHFA spokesman Jason Lantz said.

IHFA has been administering Project-Based Contract Administrator contracts since 2000. President and Executive Director Gerald Hunter said the association works to ensure U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development properties are maintained in the best condition and in compliance with HUD requirements.

Contract dollar amounts will not be known until IHFA finds out which bids it wins, Lantz said.

Brad Carlson

River Street Senior Apartments open in Hailey

The 24-unit River Street Senior Apartments opened July 10 on North River Street in Hailey. The complex was developed for low- and moderate-income people 55 and older.

The city donated the site. Nonprofit groups ARCH Community Housing Trust and AutumnGold Senior Services Inc. sponsored the project, developed by Caldwell-based New Beginnings Housing and built by Eagle contractor Wright Brothers The Building Co.

The Idaho Housing and Finance Association said it financed the $5.4 million project because it saw need for affordable senior housing in Hailey. Permanent funding includes nearly $4.36 million from National Equity Fund Inc., a $515,000 loan through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s HOME Investment Partnerships program and a $480,000 loan through Idaho Community Reinvestment Corp. Private grants and donations totaling $12,500 funded the rest.

Brad Carlson

West Nile reported in Ada, Canyon counties

Mosquitoes containing the West Nile Virus have shown up in both Ada and Canyon County, with hot weather perhaps leading to the disease showing up earlier than in previous years.

The virus was found in Boise near the Western Idaho Fairgrounds on July 12 and in south Nampa, near the Deer Flat National Wildlife Refuge, on July 15. Last year, the virus wasn’t detected until August.

West Nile Virus was first reported in Idaho in 2004, and in 2006 the state topped the nation with almost 1,000 human illnesses and 23 deaths related to the virus.

The virus, which can also affect horses, birds and other animals, can cause fever-like symptoms as well as more serious complications for older people and those with weakened immune systems. However, most healthy people are at a low risk of getting sick.

Canyon County officials planned more aerial spraying near Deer Flats to thwart mosquito larvae. Canyon County had not had a positive mosquito testing for West Nile since 2009, while Ada County had one reported case of the virus in 2011.

Brad Iverson-Long

Boise construction company fined for wire fraud

A federal judge has ordered a Boise construction company to pay $5,000 and serve three years of probation in a fraud criminal case related to a government contract job.

Federal prosecutors announced the sentence July 16 in their case against McDonald Roofing and Construction Inc.

The company pleaded guilty in March to one count of wire fraud. Prosecutors accused the company of defrauding the U.S. Department of Interior on a contract worth more than $218,000 for work done at the National Interagency Fire Center in Boise.

The company was awarded the contract based on false statements that it was eligible for a specific government program in underutilized business zones.

U.S. Attorney Wendy Olson says the company violated the public trust and took business away from eligible companies.

The Associated Press

Wilder-based food company buys Pennsylvania beef plant

CTI Food Holdings Co., based in Wilder, acquired a ground beef processing facility in King of Prussia, Penn. The new processing facility expands CTI Foods’ footprint east of the Mississippi River. In addition to Wilder, the company runs food processing facilities in Saginaw, Texas, and Azusa, Calif.

The ground beef plant was formerly owned by AFA Foods, Inc., which filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in April. AFA officials said the bankruptcy filing was due to diminished demand for ground beef related to the outcry over “pink slime,” which is an ammonia-treated meat filler also called “lean, finely textured beef.” The main maker of the controversial additive, Beef Products, Inc., closed three plants in late May.

Financial terms of the CTI Foods deal weren’t released, though three other AFA facilities have sold for a combined $25.8 million.

CTI Foods has 1,000 employees across the U.S., with roughly half its employees located in Idaho.

Brad Iverson-Long

Glanbia Foods headquarters to move to new building

Glanbia Foods is planning a move into a new, $15 million office building in Twin Falls to replace its current headquarters in the city, the company announced.

Glanbia, which is primarily known for creating American-style cheese, is not constructing the new building, which will include 35,000 square feet of office space and 14,000 square feet devoted to a research center. Instead, developer Uptown Developers will build the headquarters and lease it to Glanbia, according to a news release.

The site, which will be in downtown Twin Falls, is scheduled for completion in spring 2013.

The Twin Falls Urban Renewal Agency will provide about $800,000 for improvements to the site, paid for with increased property tax revenues from within the agency’s district.

Sean Olson

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