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NH Legislature approves white potato as state vegetable

The first-in-the-nation primary state also was the first in the nation to cultivate the white potato, say lawmakers who want to make it New Hampshire’s state vegetable.

After a brief debate over whether a potato is a tuber or a vegetable — Sen. Jim Rausch clarified that it’s a tuberous vegetable — the Senate passed the bill on a voice vote May 9.

Sen. Russell Prescott thanked Londonderry elementary school students for unearthing the white potato’s history in the Granite State. That history shows in 1719 an Irish immigrant brought a sack of seed potatoes to the area now known as Derry. Virginia challenged that research, but has since conceded New Hampshire was first to grow the white potato.

The bill, which already passed the New Hampshire House, awaits Gov. Maggie Hassan’s signature.

The potato is also the state vegetable in Idaho, the nation’s largest potato producer, which is famous for its Russets. Idaho Potato Commission Frank Muir said he had no problem with New Hampshire taking the tuber on as a symbol as well. North Carolina and Louisiana have the sweet potato as their state vegetable.

“Most people don’t even realize every state in the U.S., including Hawaii and Alaska, grows potatoes,” Muir said. “It’s great that any state is proud of its potato heritage.”

The Associated Press

Idaho wages are 87 percent of the national average

The midpoint for Idaho wages was $14.58 an hour in 2012, which was 87 percent of the national average, down slightly from 2011. The median wage did rise 7 cents from 2011. Idaho’s average wage, $18.48 an hour, also fell compared to the national average as well as dropping 4 cents from 2011.

Idaho’s median wage remained 42nd in the country, while the average wage dropped a spot to 45th in the country in 2012, based on estimates from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ Occupational Employment Survey. Idaho trailed all its neighboring states, except Montana, in both categories.

Average wages in the Boise metro area, which covers most of the Treasure Valley, dropped slightly, both in actual wages and compared to the national average. Pocatello was alone among Idaho’s five largest population centers in having the median and average wage rise compared to the U.S.

Boise had the highest wages of Idaho metro areas, followed by Lewiston.

Jobs in the medical field had the 10 highest annual mean wages in Idaho last year, led by surgeons, who made an average of $251,000 a year. Outside medical professions, chief executives, architectural and engineering managers, nuclear engineers and aerospace engineers all had high-paying jobs, with average wages between $115,000 and $132,000 a year.

The lowest-paying jobs, all earning less than $18,000 a year or $9 an hour on average, were travel guides, dishwashers, fast food cooks, and tour guides and escorts.

Brad Iverson-Long

Ada County Jail to remodel kitchen

A remodel of the Ada County Jail’s kitchen will begin in June.

Updates to the 6,500-square-foot kitchen will include adding a new commercial dishwasher, freezer and relocation of a dry food storage freezer within the space, said Ada County Sheriff’s Office Spokeswoman Andrea Dearden. Some plumbing work will also be required during the remodel. Scott Hedrick Construction was awarded the bid to build and LCA is the architect. The project will cost $650,000.

Renovations will occur during some overnight shifts to accommodate kitchen staff who start preparing meals around 3:00 a.m., said LCA Project Manager Brent Pitts. Built in 1995, the kitchen served around 600 inmates. Today, that number is closer to 900, plus other jail employees and staff members.  Food preparation will take place offsite for about a week during construction,

“It takes coordination and security, especially when working in this environment,” Pitts said.

Construction is scheduled to be completed this fall.

Jennifer Gonzalez

Idaho foreclosure rate inches up in April

The number of home foreclosure filings in Idaho rose 6.6 percent from March to April, though foreclosures remain far below 2012 levels. Nationally, foreclosures were down 5 percent, according to data from RealtyTrac, a real estate and foreclosure data company.

Idaho now ranks 23rd in the nation in foreclosure rate, with one out of every 1,129 housing units in some part of the foreclosure process. Idaho was 21st in March—several states with similar foreclosure rates, including Michigan and Minnesota, had greater increases in April.

Idaho was consistently in the top 10 nationally during the height of the housing crisis.

The state’s foreclosure rate also increased month-over-month from January to February. Idaho’s April foreclosure rate was 18.5 percent less than in April 2012.

Nationally, the foreclosure rate was the lowest since February 2007, with Idaho having less foreclosure activity than the national average. States with judicial foreclosure process, which does not include Idaho, showed an increase in April.

Half of the 586 foreclosure properties in Idaho counted by RealtyTrac were scheduled foreclosure auctions. Both foreclosure starts and foreclosure completions declined from March to April.

IBR Staff

Nampa schools take another financial hit

The Nampa School District is facing a $1.2 million hit after a financial analyst discovered the money went to general operations rather than repayment of bonds.

District Finance Officer Michelle Yankovich told the Nampa school board May 7 that the money is a “cash flow” problem and does not add to the district’s $5.1 million budget deficit.

The district has been beset with money problems after budgeting errors that included counting almost $3 million in one-time money twice and over-expenditure of about $1 million.

Board members at the meeting voted to borrow as much as $6.3 million from D.L. Evans Bank to meet daily expenses.

Interim Superintendent Tom Michaelson says he hopes the bond debt is the last of the financial problems to be uncovered.

The Associated Press

Fired Idaho head football coach files lawsuit

Fired University of Idaho football coach Robb Akey has filed a lawsuit against the school.

The Idaho State Judiciary website lists the suit as having been filed April 16 in Latah County and names the University of Idaho, University of Idaho Board of Regents, and the Idaho State Board of Education as defendants.

Akey was fired in October with the Vandals 1-7. He was 20-50 in five-plus seasons as head coach.

Akey’s contract, approved in 2010 and extending through 2014, paid him a base salary of nearly $165,800 in state funds, plus an additional $190,000 in media compensation from private donations, for a total of $355,800.

In the lawsuit, Akey contends the university has failed to pay him for media participation, and he seeks an unspecified amount to be determined at trial. Akey said he fulfilled his contract with the university by participating in all required media programs and public appearances.

Athletic director Rob Spear declined to comment.

The Associated Press


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