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State controller Jones resigns, Woolf appointed

Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter has appointed Brandon Woolf as the state’s new Controller.

Woolf was named temporary controller in July after now-retired controller Donna Jones was badly injured in a car crash. Otter said at the time that Woolf would serve until the 73-year-old Jones returned to her job.

On Oct. 15, Otter announced during a press conference that Jones had resigned from the position, and he named Woolf permanently to the post. His appointment is subject to approval by the Idaho Senate.  Woolf is a 15 year veteran of the controller’s office, previously serving as Jones’ chief deputy.

Jones served 12 years in the Idaho House of Representatives before being elected as state controller in 2006. Before becoming a lawmaker, she served as the executive director of the Idaho Real Estate Commission for eight years.

The Associated Press

New Idaho geologic map due out

The Idaho Geological Survey is releasing its first new geologic map of the state since 1978.

The Lewiston Tribune reports that the 36-by48-inch map goes on sale Oct 19 for $20.

Idaho Geological Survey Director Roy Breckenridge calls the map a piece of art. It’s a shaded relief map that uses 75 colors to identify geological formations, different varieties of rocks and their ages.

The Lake Missoula and Lake Bonneville flood deposits are identified on the map, for example.

Breckenridge says Idaho rocks haven’t changed much since the 1978 map, but a lot of new mapping has been done that adds new information to the most recent map.

He says technology has also increased the ability to date rocks, making the map more accurate in dating geologic formations.

The Associated Press

Indicted Tamarack suitor’s lawyer wants off case

The lawyer for a would-be Tamarack Resort buyer who is under indictment wants off the federal fraud case, citing communication problems and a potential conflict of interest.

Eagle-based lawyer Dennis Charney filed paperwork Oct. 11 in U.S. District Court in Boise, asking a judge to relieve him of his duties representing Matthew Hutcheson.

Hutcheson was charged earlier this year with diverting some $5 million from retirement accounts he oversaw to help finance his failed bid to buy Tamarack, a struggling resort near Donnelly, 90 miles north of Boise.

Charney says he and Hutcheson disagree over “strategy and presentation.”

Moreover, Charney says he could be called as a witness at the criminal trial later this year because of unspecified evidence that may be brought by the government.

Hutcheson faces decades in prison, if convicted.

The Associated Press

INL moving big microscopes to modern new building

The Idaho National Laboratory plans to soon move powerful microscopes capable of illuminating the secrets of nuclear fuel to a new, 8,000-square-foot building in the eastern Idaho desert.

The Idaho Falls Post-Register reports the microscopes’ current home, in the so-called Hot Fuel Examination Facility, is too antiquated to accommodate cutting-edge microscopes that examine fuels and materials that go into nuclear reactors.

Last year, construction was started on their new domicile, the Irradiated Materials Characterization Lab.

One advantage of the new quarters is, they’ll be able withstand vibrations emitted by equipment needed to power the microscopes. The lab will also allow examination of larger samples, adding to researchers’ knowledge of nuclear fuel. It will be operational come 2014, but new microscopes are due to be added through the ensuing four years.

The Associated Press

Rexburg looking to ramp up cybersecurity after BYU-I prof hacks in

City officials in Rexburg are taking steps to beef up protection of the city’s computer network after a local college professor showed just how easy it could be to hack into the system.

Brigham Young University-Idaho Professor Steven Rigby needed fewer than eight hours to hack his way into the network. Once inside, Rigby says he had access to whatever he wanted.

The Rexburg Standard Journal reported Oct. 11 that a city committee is recommending a plan to modernize its computer systems and tighten up security.

Rigby says he had the potential to delete or edit files, download malicious programs and to identify password security codes.

The city has nearly 200 individual computer work stations supported by 19 servers. But over time, additions and modifications have weakened security.

The Associated Press

Eastern Idaho man diagnosed with fungal meningitis

Idaho health officials say an eastern Idaho man has been diagnosed with fungal meningitis after receiving a steroid injection commonly used to treat back pain.

The Idaho Department of Health and Welfare said this is the first Idaho illness linked to a national outbreak that has sickened an estimated 138 people from 11 states. So far, 12 people have died. The medication, made by a specialty pharmacy in Massachusetts, has been recalled.

Two Idaho facilities received shipments of the recalled injections, and both used the medication to treat patients before the recall was announced. Walter Knox Memorial Hospital in Emmett gave the shots to four people, and Pain Specialists of Idaho in Idaho Falls treated 35 people with the injections.

The Associated Press

Feds approve $4.5 M for Trinity Ridge fire rehab

Federal forest officials say they have approved $4.5 million to restore acreage damaged by the Trinity Ridge Fire in the Boise National Forest.

The U.S. Forest Service approved the spending this week for repairs that include watershed protection, road and trail improvements and noxious weed treatments. The work is scheduled to begin immediately and wrap up by this winter.

The biggest expense will be an estimated $2.1 million to place straw mulch in areas to protect Bull Trout fisheries, soil stabilization and vegetation recovery in three watersheds.

Another $2 million will be used on road improvements and upgrading stream crossings.

The Trinity Ridge Fire started on Aug. 3 and burned nearly 229 square miles including popular recreation spots. The fire is projected to be fully contained next week.

The Associated Press

Insurers in Idaho make plea for nonprofit exchange

With a looming deadline approaching, insurers are making a last-ditch plea to Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter for a nonprofit, state-based insurance exchange in Idaho as part of President Barack Obama’s health care overhaul.

On Oct. 9, Idaho’s advisers said the state likely has too little time — and too much work still to complete — to establish a state-run exchange by 2014.

But insurance companies including Blue Cross of Idaho, Regence Blue Shield and PacificSource urge the state not to default to a federal exchange, like many states are doing.

Jack Rovner, an attorney working for the insurers, says Idaho can still develop a state-based nonprofit to manage this online insurance marketplace.

Insurers fear a federal exchange would invite regulation from Washington, D.C.

Idaho must announce its intentions by Nov. 16.

The Associated Press

NCAA upholds Boise State scholarship sanctions

The NCAA has rejected an appeal from Boise State and is standing by its decision that the football program must reduce the number of scholarships it hands out this season and the next.

The Division I Committee on Infractions announced the decision Oct. 10 and in the process rejected an appeal filed by the school stemming from a broader package of sanctions handed down by the NCAA last year.

As part of the penalty package, the NCAA ordered the football program to cut scholarships from 85 to 82 for the 2012-13 and 2013-14 academic years. The school had already self-imposed the scholarship reduction for last season.

Still, Boise State lawyers argued that the scholarship sanction was excessive, especially when compared to past infraction cases investigated by the NCAA.

But NCAA officials denied that the Boise State case has direct comparison to any past cases.

The Associated Press

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