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Zions offers help to furloughed employees

With the government shutdown still in effect, Zions Bank is offering a program to assist with furloughed federal employees.

The Furlough Assistance Program allows Zions to modify existing loan and credit card terms for current clients who might be affected by a lack of paycheck or other circumstance related to the government shutdown. Zions Bank Senior Vice President and Director of Military Relations

Brian Garrett

Brian Garrett

said any modification is considered on a client-by-client, case-by-case basis.

“It can provide some breathing room during these times,” Garrett said.

The program was actually conceived and set up this spring when the Department of Defense announced it would begin furloughing full-time guardsman reservists. The program has been extended to all employees who might not be receiving a federal paycheck.

“It is vitally important that people who might be affected by a furlough or layoff, even from a local business, reach out to their financial institution or creditors immediately,” Garrett.

Jennifer Gonzalez

Officials mull making Scotchman Peaks a wilderness zone

A draft forest management plan is recommending making more than 25,000 acres of the Scotchman Peaks area in northern Idaho part of a protected wilderness zone.

The recommendation is part of a draft record of decision developed for the Kootenai and Panhandle national forests.

The Bonner County Daily Bee reports the new draft updates the existing 1987 plan and will guide management of the forests for the next 15 years.

The old plan recommended 23,900 acres of the Scotchman Peaks area be designated wilderness. The new plan simply adds 2,000 more acres to that total.

The draft plan and accompanying environmental study were released for public review last month. The forest is accepting public comments on the proposal until late November.

The Associated Press

State personal income growth ranks 45th in second quarter

Idaho was in the bottom five nationally for personal income growth during the second quarter, according to data released by the Bureau of Economic Analysis. The state’s personal income rose just 0.4 percent. Idaho’s personal income on an annualized basis was $56.4 billion for the second quarter. All of Idaho’s neighbors posted larger income gains.

The personal income metric includes wages, business profits, investment earnings, Social Security, unemployment benefits and pensions.

Idaho’s wages and salaries rose at the national rate of 0.8 percent during the second quarter, hitting a record of $25 billion on an annualized basis. However, business income dropped 4.4 percent, according to the Idaho Department of Labor. That was the fourth largest decline nationally. Investment earnings and transfer payments showed little change.

Income in the farming sector dropped 6.2 percent to $2.2 billion, on an annualized basis. Large increases were reported by the forestry, construction and health care industries.

Brad Iverson-Long

Dems to Idaho Prisons Board: Let state run ICC

Democratic lawmakers are urging the Board of Correction to put Idaho’s largest prison back under state control instead of contracting with another private prison operator.

The letter signed by 16 of the Legislature’s 20 Democrats was delivered Oct. 15 by an unexpected messenger: Republican Idaho Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter’s spokesman, Mark Warbis.

Warbis said there was no “hidden message” to Otter’s decision to deliver the Democrats’ message to the board. Instead, he said Democratic leaders approached the governor the week of Oct. 7 after they learned Otter was open to all options for running the Idaho Correctional Center.

Corrections Corporation of America operates the prison for $29 million a year. The Idaho State Police is investigating CCA for possible contract fraud, and CCA has admitted understaffing ICC in violation of a federal court order.

The Associated Press

Idaho Land Board Rejects Multimillion-dollar Land Swaps

The Idaho Land Board rejected a plan to exchange 69 cottage sites on Priest and Payette lakes for commercial property worth $25.5 million after foes questioned the accuracy of the appraisals.

Board members including Gov. C.L. “Butch” Otter voted Oct. 15 to dump two planned swaps.

One included 58 cottage sites owned by Idaho’s endowment fund on the two lakes for three commercial buildings in Idaho Falls occupied by an Idaho National Laboratory contractor.

The other swap included 11 cottage sites on Payette Lake, to be exchanged for a Nampa office building.

Department of Lands officials said the swaps would boost endowment earnings for Idaho public schools.

But Rep. John Vander Woude criticized appraisals for the properties as inflated.

The Department of Lands may resurrect the proposals after gathering more information.

The Associated Press

Blaine County schools settle case with developer

The Blaine County School District has agreed to settle a lawsuit with a Seattle-based company contracted to do a multimillion-dollar green energy project on Sun Valley-area schools.

The district announced the settlement Oct. 15 with McKinstry Essention Inc. to end an 18-month legal battle.

The Times-News reports the settlement includes an exchange of final payments by each side.

Under terms, the school district has agreed to pay the company more than $665,600 for the green energy retrofit done on eight school buildings. In return, the company will pay the district $800,000 to use toward attorney fees.

The district and McKinstry have also signed a 25-year agreement ensuring $9.5 million in energy savings.

The district sued the company in May 2012, then McKinstry lawyers responded with a lawsuit of their own.

The Associated Press

Economist testifies in favor of St. Luke’s growth

A heath care economist has told a federal judge he thinks the decision by St. Luke’s Health System to swallow up a smaller competitor is good for health care across Idaho.

The testimony of Alain Enthoven came Oct. 15 in the federal antitrust lawsuit between St. Luke’s and competitor Saint Alphonsus Health System.

The trial – now in its fourth week – focuses on St. Luke’s acquisition of Saltzer Medical Group.

In 2012, Saint Alphonsus, along with the Idaho Attorney General and Federal Trade Commission sued in federal court, arguing the St. Luke’s buyout was an unfair market grab.

The Idaho Statesman reports Enthoven – a retired Stanford University business professor – said St. Luke’s growth is essential toward the bigger goal of lowering health care costs statewide.

The Associated Press





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