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The 1978 US Bank Plaza is the tallest building in Idaho, with 20 floors. File photo

The 1978 US Bank Plaza is the tallest building in Idaho, with 20 floors. File photo

Gardner Company closes on $37M loan for U.S. Bank Building

U.S. Bank has closed on a $37 million loan for Gardner Company in its purchase of the U.S. Bank Building in Boise.

U.S. Bank will remain the anchor tenant and retain naming rights for the 256,000-square-foot tower on Capitol Boulevard. The building was previously owned and managed by Unico Properties. Tenants include Moffatt Thomas, Stoel Rives, Holland & Hart and the Gardner Company. U.S. Bank employs 400 people in the building.

Holland & Hart is moving to Gardner Company’s new tower nearby, the $76 million Eighth and Main building, which is scheduled to open in January.

Gardner Company COO Tommy Ahlquist has said plans for the U.S. Bank building could include a transportation hub or other development in the parking lot adjacent to the property.  It’s primary tenants there are Zions Bank and Holland & Hart.

Garden Co. declined to say how much the company paid for the U.S. Bank Building.

Jennifer Gonzalez

Western States Equipment Co. to acquire Twin Falls firm

Twin Falls agricultural equipment dealer Agri-Services will be acquired by the owner of Western States Equipment Company.

The Tertling Company announced its intent to acquire the company, which has locations in Idaho, northern Utah and eastern Oregon. If approved by shareholders, the transaction will be effective Nov. 1, 2013.

Under the terms of this agreement, Agri-Service will remain a stand-alone company focused on sales and service in the Rocky Mountain region. Agri-Service Founder and CEO Cleve Buttars will guide the company through the transition, and current COO Clint Schnoor will become president following the transition. All other members of the management team will remain and oversee around 175 employees.

Pending the approval of the transaction, existing Western States CAT agriculture customers in Agri-Service’s territory will be served by Agri-Service. All Western States Caterpillar stores will continue to provide CAT equipment sales, parts and service.

Jennifer Gonzalez

Wilderness grazing allotments retired in Idaho
Two grazing allotments totaling 203 square miles in remote southwestern Idaho’s Owyhee County have been permanently retired.

Jon Marvel, a public-land ranching foe and a leader of the Sagebrush Habitat Conservation Fund, said Oct. 9 his group struck the agreement with two “conservation-minded permittees” who had grazed cattle on the Bureau of Land Management allotments.

He declined to name the permittees.

Marvel’s other group, Western Watersheds Project, co-founded the fund to buy and retire federal grazing permits.

He says these voluntary retirements help protect sensitive species including sage grouse, bighorn sheep, redband trout and antelope.

The retired allotments cover a portion of the Owyhee River Wilderness, one of six federal wilderness areas created in 2009 and promoted by U.S. Sen. Mike Crapo in a years-long collaborative process including ranchers and environmentalists.

The Associated Press

Idaho exchange fears fee hike

Idaho insurance exchange leaders may hike fees by as much as 75 percent within two years, according to emails indicating existing fees could be insufficient to sustain the Internet health coverage marketplace’s operations.

The Your Health Idaho exchange opened last week, with the web site disrupted by heavy traffic from potential enrollees.

The exchange now charges a 1.5 percent assessment on each policy, to build operational reserves.

But in early September, exchange finance chief Pat Kelly had planned to announce that fee could be boosted to 2.6 percent by 2016, the deadline when the federal government requires Idaho’s exchange be self-sustainable.

Kelly’s presentation was scuttled, however, a decision exchange director Amy Dowd recalled on Oct. 10 came after concluding it was based on calculations too preliminary to make public just yet.

The Associated Press

SlideKlowd adds social media, new analytics to presentation software

Eagle tech company Klowd is rolling out a new version of its SlideKlowd presentation software that will let people participating in SlideKlowd presentations share slides on Facebook and Twitter. Version 2.0 of SlideKlowd also offers more analytics for the presentation software, which lets audience members use their smartphones or tablets to participate in presentations.

Co-founder and chief marketing officer Justin Foster said SlideKlowd is designed to keep an audience more engaged with a presentation. Audience members can answer poll questions or leave comments in the middle of presentations.

“Boring is expensive for companies, presenters and people going to meetings,” Foster said.

SlideKlowd launched in 2012 and is a subscription-based service, with presenters or companies paying to use the service on a monthly basis or for single events. Audience members can use apps for free during presentations. Foster said the added social media integration helps presenters track how audiences respond to presentations. SlideKlowd’s analytics offer slide-by-slide data on how audiences are engaging with presentations.

“The audience is taking pictures and tweeting. You’re not getting much of that (information), because you don’t know who’s tweeting,” he said. “By using that through SlideKlowd, you’re adding that to the data pool.”

Brad Iverson-Long

Nonprofit opens its first office in Nampa

A nonprofit re-housing agency is opening its first office in Nampa.

CATCH, which stands for  charitable assistance to community’s homeless, is opening at 306 2nd St. S. CATCH founder Greg Morris said the office will include resource rooms for families, a playroom, office, and considerable warehouse space. CATCH is leasing the former warehouse space, which is about 2,000 square feet. Its location is near Nampa’s Salvation Army Family Shelter and the City of Nampa’s main offices.

CATCH partners with local churches, businesses, the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare and the United Way to provide rental assistance and case management to homeless families, for up to six months. It also provides items furniture and household items to families. According to the agency, its success rate of permanently re-housing families is about 85 percent in both Ada and Canyon County.

Jennifer Gonzalez

Company agrees to pay for bogus membership clubs

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden says a Connecticut company has agreed to pay more than 7,000 Idahoans restitution as part of a settlement over bogus club memberships.

The settlement announced Oct. 10 comes in a case brought by Idaho and 46 other states against Affinion and its subsidiary companies. The refunds are part of a $32 million settlement with the company, which was accused of tricking consumers into signing up and paying for discount clubs and memberships.

Wasden estimates there are 7,600 members of such clubs in Idaho. Wasden estimates that Idahoans affiliated with the clubs and memberships will be eligible to receive an estimated $500,000.

Affinion and its subsidiaries operated multiple discount clubs and membership programs, with names such as Buyer Assurance, Complete Savings, HealthSaver and PrivacyGuard. The clubs offered services like credit monitoring, roadside assistance and discounted travel.

Consumers eligible for a refund will be notified by Affinion, Trilegiant and Webloyalty. Those who believe they are eligible but receive no notice from those companies can file a complaint with the Attorney General.

The Associated Press

Idaho afterschool programs due more federal cash

School kids looking for something to do after class could benefit from another $1.5 million in federal funding headed Idaho’s way.

The State Department of Education says it plans to divvy up the money for next year, but now is the time for districts to apply for a cut of the cash.

It’s coming through the federal 21st Century Community Learning Centers program, which aims to boost art, music, sports and drug and violence prevention during the non-school hours — when some kids might otherwise get into mischief.

Public schools chief Tom Luna praised the federal program, saying it has “a long history of supporting the academic success of students outside of the school day.”

Luna says his agency now funds 93 afterschool centers throughout Idaho, serving 6,128 youth daily.

The Associated Press

Exchange: Get insurance by March 15 to skirt fine

Idaho’s insurance exchange has been advising prospective enrollees not to worry about early hiccups logging into the Internet health-care marketplace and signing up for coverage.

After all, the exchange has said, people have six months to enroll before facing a tax penalty under President Obama’s overhaul.

Actually, however, they have only 5 ½ months to sign up.

Here’s why: People face a penalty if they don’t have coverage starting April 1.

But enrolling after March 15 means their insurance won’t begin until May 1.

Consequently, Your Health Idaho spokeswoman Jody Olson this week began encouraging uninsured residents to make sure they buy a policy in time, to avoid a pro-rated penalty for the month of April.

Olson says the exchange’ log-in logjams promise to soon be cleared, to ease enrollment.

The Associated Press

Ag education initiative seeks $2.24 million

Future Farmers of America supporters plan to ask Idaho lawmakers for $2.24 million to help maintain and improve the state’s secondary agricultural education programs.

The Capital Press reports that the Idaho FFA Association, Idaho FFA Alumni Association and Idaho FFA Foundation support the plan to ask the 2014 Legislature for the money.

The initiative includes professional development programs, incentive grants, and $25,000 startup grants for education programs.

Officials say state funding for secondary agricultural education hasn’t increased since 1998.

The Associated Press






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