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Roundtable Discussions

Darrell Bolz reported:
Economic development in Canyon County is in the midst of becoming a reality.  Caldwell, in particular is seeing a number of new businesses coming.  A new neighborhood Wal-Mart is to open this fall.  A Starbucks is also in the works.  Both Nampa and Caldwell are in line for new hotels (3 in each community).  Caldwell just recently has proposed a Business Improvement District which has been signed by more than 50% of the property owners.  If approved, this will enhance the development of the Indian Creek Plaza in downtown Caldwell.

The Caldwell/Nampa Chamber of Commerce Agricultural Affairs Committee contacted the Idaho Statesman about doing local agricultural news stories following a story about crop signs in Idaho and Lewis Counties under the “local” section of the paper.

Shirley Biladeau, Idaho Commission for Libraries, reported:
The Idaho Commission for Libraries is in the process of disbursing funds for Broadband reimbursement for public libraries as set forth in S1334 from the 2016 Idaho Legislature.  There are approximately 60 libraries out of the 67 that are eligible (those who applied for E-rate) who will be receiving funds.

The Special Projects Library Action Team – aka SPLAT – made a trip to five rural public libraries in Central Idaho a couple of weeks ago.  This involved the SPLAT members (librarians from the Idaho library community) working with library staff and local community members demonstrating and coaching the use of a various technology tools from 3-D printers to robotics and low tech STEM tools.  The three outreach teams connected with over 100 people in one day in five Idaho rural communities (Bellevue, Hailey, Stanley, Salmon and Challis).  The Idaho Make It program continues to reach out to rural Idaho libraries to provide training in the Make It Culture and educational technology programming that can be replicated in their libraries for low or no cost.

The Idaho Commission for Libraries continues its partnership with the Department of Labor working on WIOA, career advising, and workforce development activities and also with the University of Idaho Extension service by bringing financial literacy training and programming to rural Idaho libraries.

Jim Werntz, Idaho Environmental Protection Agency, reported:
IPDES Program and Rural Air Quality Issues (West Silver Valley and Cache Valley):    Jess Byrne of DEQ provided an excellent summary of the status of the IPDES program and the huge effort underway at Idaho DEQ to develop and apply to EPA to authorize the program to Idaho.   EPA has provided a $2 million grant to IDEQ to assist the West Silver Valley in addressing the serious air quality problems in this area.   Some of those funds are anticipated to be used to help residents to purchase clean-burning wood stoves to replace older, high-polluting stoves.   Franklin County/Cache Valley has different issues, but due to particulate pollution, will need assistance address their air quality issues.

Dixie Drain Commissioning:   On August 24th, the City of Boise is hosting a Commissioning ceremony and tour of the new Dixie Drain phosphorous removal facility that has been constructed near Parma, ID.   This facility, along with the upgrades to two treatment plants in Boise, will make a significant contribution to reducing nutrient pollution in the Boise and Snake rivers.   The Dixie Drain facility will remove both sediment and phosphorous coming into the Boise River, by cleaning up a polluted agriculture drain.   EPA and IDEQ worked for several years to negotiate the terms for the City’s Clean Water Act NPDES permits, to make this innovative idea come to fruition.

Suction Dredge Mining on the South Fork of the Clearwater River:   EPA in partnership with USFS, BLM, NMFS, and other agencies, have successfully collaborated to create a framework for opening the SF Clearwater in 2016 and beyond, to limited and regulated dredging.   Since 2013, this section of water has been closed to dredging under EPA’s general permit.  This section of water is critical habitat to endangered salmon and steelhead, and it is also a location that some miners would like to dredge.   The interagency effort created a process for miners to get each Agency’s approval for a limited number of dredgers to operate in a defined period that would not harm the endangered species in this location.

EPA-Idaho Operations Office:   After several years of budget cuts and loss of critical staff losses, the Idaho Office has been able to hire new employees, including a wetlands specialist and an On-Scene Coordinator (capable of taking emergency spill actions).   When able to hire, EPA attracts a large number of highly qualified applicants from Idaho and other states. 

Lori Porreca, Federal Highway Administration, reported
The 1st statewide freight plan will be completed by September. It will include a 5-yr list of projects as well as 10- and 20-year horizons with projects for the freight system.  The plan is multi-modal.  This plan will allow ITD to use the new FHWA freight formula program. There is a statewide freight advisory committee with representatives from both private and public sector.  If anyone is interested in becoming more involved in freight planning please contact me.

The Transportation Alternatives Program (TAP) has just completed another call for projects and project selection process. The call this year was $20.6M. The available funding each year is around $3.5M.  The need continues to outweigh the funding made available.

The Congestion Mitigation Air Quality Program (CMAQ) does have a set aside for PM2.5 nonattainment areas. Idaho has one, Franklin County, as part of the larger Cache Valley nonattainment area.  There is about $12M that has accumulated over the last 4 years. It is not currently being used by ITD to address the issues in Franklin County.

Maureen Gresham, APA, Idaho Chapter, reported:
The Idaho APA Fall Conference is coming up on October 12th-14th in Boise at the Center on the Grove.

APA Idaho is looking for new ways to work with IRP beyond just supporting a planner to attend the community reviews.

Erik Kingston, Idaho Housing and Finance Association, reported:
IHFA and others are partnering with the City of Boise to create a pilot Housing First program. Erik and Brady Ellis from IHFA’s presented to IRP on this concept in 2015. It starts with putting homeless people in homes, and then addressing physical and mental issues, addiction and other problems that contributed to their homelessness once they are stabilized. It is a money saver for places like Salt Lake City and the surrounding county, which implemented a Housing First model years ago.

Partners announced a plan to provide 40 or so apartments for chronically homeless people who live in Ada County. About 25 of these apartments would be in a new building. The remaining 15 would be apartments that already exist as affordable housing.

Erik is still answering the hot line for homelessness and getting lots of phone calls.  There is a shortage in Idaho for folks who make minimum wage; decent housing is still out of reach for them.

Roy Valdez, Idaho Department of Labor, reported:
Research goals: Assess employment for all postsecondary graduates from the year 2010 to 2014 by Idaho institution and determine the state’s capacity to retain graduates and assess the ratios of inter‐state students who found employment in Idaho. Employment for the purposes of this research effort is defined by earnings covered in Idaho’s unemployment insurance system.

Key Definitions: For the purposes of this research study, intra‐state students are defined as students who entered a postsecondary institution in Idaho as an Idaho resident. Inter‐state students are identified as students with non‐resident status at the time of entry.

Findings: Tables 1 and 2 estimate Idaho employment retention rates for Idaho public postsecondary institutions. Cohorts from 2010 to 2014 were analyzed by intra‐ and inter‐state student status.

Intra‐state student graduates were twice as likely to work in Idaho. In fact, 77 percent of intra‐state postsecondary graduates found a job in Idaho one year removed from school and 67 percent were still employed in Idaho four years after graduation. Rates of change throughout the four years removed from school were fairly consistent among all eight institutions. Eastern Idaho Technical College had the highest one‐year retention rate of 89 percent for its 2013‐2014 graduates. Over the same four‐year period, the College of Southern Idaho had the strongest retention rate, only dropping four percentage points from 80 to 76 percent for the 2010‐2011 graduating cohort.

As would be expected only 39 percent of inter‐state postsecondary graduates were retained and working in Idaho in the first year, one year following graduation, and 28 percent four years after graduation. While North Idaho College had the highest inter‐state retention rate of 62 percent, the College of Western Idaho retained a consistent 58 percent of its inter‐state students throughout the four years of analysis. However, inter‐state students make up a smaller percentage of the overall student body for the smaller two‐year institutions. The larger four year colleges and universities typically have larger enrollment numbers of students traveling from farther distances to further their education and many are already in or continue on to graduate school.

According to department analysts, there are myriad factors that may affect retention rates. The most obvious is the intra‐state student with family in Idaho and an affinity for remaining in and working in the state. Other factors include types of degrees and programs offered. Some degrees and programs are highly marketable all over the country and the world, making those students more mobile and attractive to employers outside Idaho. Geographic location of the institution is another factor. Some colleges and universities are located in college towns, closer to bordering states where students are more likely to take their degrees to other more economically viable cities outside of the state. And, some postsecondary institutions are already located in thriving and growing economic urban hubs, creating local and immediate job opportunities for graduates eager to enter the workforce.

Other factors may be that workers may be self‐employed or simply choose not to participate in the local workforce by choosing to focus on raising their family. The emerging “gig” economy and related industries that have higher concentrations of sub‐contractors may also factor in to declining covered employment matches.

Methodology: Using Idaho’s State Longitudinal Data System, employment records collected by the Idaho Department of Labor for the 2010 – 2014 graduating cohorts were matched with educational records from Idaho postsecondary institutions and data from Office of the State Board of Education (OSBE). These data sets contained intra‐ and inter‐state identifiers provided by Boise State University, College of Western Idaho, North Idaho College and the University of Idaho, while data from the College of Southern, Eastern Idaho Technical College, Idaho State University, and Lewis‐Clark State College were provided by OSBE. Graduates were given one full year following their graduation date before measuring employment status.

Notes: Employment status is defined as a covered worker earning wages. A covered worker is employed by an employer covered under Idaho’s unemployment insurance law. Self‐employed, federal employees, those serving in the armed forces, foreign aid service (such as Peace Corps), or missions, paid athletes, real estate brokers, some agricultural workers are not captured in this data set. Actual rates of employment will be slightly higher when accounting for the self‐employed and graduates working for exempt employers.

These data are calculated on a per individual basis rather than per degree as some students graduate with multiple degrees. Some graduates may show up at multiple institutions. In those cases matches were recorded at both schools.

Grouping rates by time periods following the time the degree was earned should be used with caution.

Although the length of time following the degree is the same, these outcomes may have occurred at different dates and positions on the business cycle. For example, gaining employment one year out of school in a boom economy is likely easier than finding a job in a declining economy. That being said Idaho’s economy did expand in all the years analyzed from 2010 to 2014. More caution would have needed to be used if the one year analyzed spanned a full business cycle of economic contraction and expansion. Graduates totals will not match official institutional records as matches were only made when social security numbers were available and provided.

And lastly search parameters were limited to employment status only. Level of earnings, occupation or industry employed in, or even full‐time or part‐time employment, was not analyzed.

Art Beal, Idaho Association of RC&D Councils, reported:
The West Central Highlands RC&D is closing its door due to lack of interest.  There has only been five members out of about 30 showing up for their meetings.  No new projects have been submitted for the last year.  Woody Biomass is being taken up by another organization and the Boise Forest Coalition will continue to function. 

As you know we are in a dry cycle.  This changes the size of forest fires.  Up until Saturday August 13th there was very little or no moisture clouds above the Pioneer fire indicating very little fuel moisture.  Most of the irrigation started to use storage about a month earlier this year indicating the creeks are drying up.  This means the wildlife has moved to the larger water and greener feed sources so expect to see wildlife in your back yard or on the highway. The morning of this meeting a deer crossed the road in Horseshoe Bend just behind me on the way in.

Stephanie Cook, INL, reported:
Battelle Energy Alliance opens application process for two community programs
IDAHO FALLS — Battelle Energy Alliance, which manages Idaho National Laboratory for the U.S. Department of Energy, announced today that it is accepting applications for the fiscal year 2017 Community Giving and Technology-based Economic Development campaigns. Each of the two programs focuses on a distinct audience and purpose. Applications for charitable donations from both programs will be accepted until Oct. 15.

Fiscal Year 2017 Community Giving Campaign
The INL Community Giving program provides BEA corporate-funded donations in selected areas, such as human services, health, environment, arts and civic projects.

“Our first priority for the Community Giving program will be to give to organizations that support the basic needs of children and the underprivileged,” said Lori Priest, contributions administrator. “Community Giving projects include everything from feeding the hungry and providing basic shelter to improving the quality of life.”

Since 2005, the program has provided support for a variety of outreach efforts.

“We consider it our responsibility to make a positive impact on our community,” said Amy Lientz, director of INL Partnerships team. 

Fiscal Year 2017 Technology-based Economic Development Campaign
The INL Technology-based Economic Development program targets projects aimed at spurring regional economic development, technology-based economic development, talent pipeline and entrepreneurship in the area.

“Our goal is to grow our regional economy by investing in creative projects at the nexus of our research priorities in nuclear energy, clean energy and national and homeland security,” said Stephanie Cook of INL’s Economic and Workforce Development team. “We’re looking for innovative projects that enhance the regional economy and strengthen the talent pipeline.” 

Application information and submission process for fiscal year 2017 Community Giving and Technology-based Economic Development campaigns
Eligibility criteria: Organizations must be 501(c)(3) nonprofit entities. A copy of the IRS tax-exempt letter must accompany the form. INL’s charitable donation program does not fund political or religious organizations, emergency response, courtesy advertisements, athletic programs or events, individuals, contests or extracurricular school activities. This funding does not include requests for K-12 education donations.

For further information on K-12 science, technology, engineering and math educational funding requests and grant cycles, contact Brenda Greenhalgh (brenda.greenhalgh@inl.gov).

Submit 2017 donation request forms by Oct. 15. Applications submitted after the deadline will not be included in the review process.

Decisions about 2017 contributions will be made by Dec. 15. Notifications will be sent to requesting organizations informing them of funding awards. Funds will be for projects for the period of Oct. 1, 2016, to Sept. 30, 2017.

For full details on both programs, or to download the 2017 request for donation form, visit INL's website: Economic & Workforce Development or Community Outreach.

Idaho National Laboratory is part of the Department of Energy’s complex of national laboratories. The laboratory performs work in each of the strategic goal areas of DOE – energy, national security, environment and science. INL is the nation’s leading center of nuclear energy research and development. Day-to-day management and operation of the laboratory is the responsibility of Battelle Energy Alliance.

See more INL news at www.inl.gov. Follow @INL on Twitter or visit our Facebook page at www.facebook.com/IdahoNationalLaboratory

Joe Herring, Region IV Development, reported:
Clif Bar has completed their first manufacturing facility.  It is ¼ of a mile long so raw product goes into one end and the finished product comes out the other.  Their building is shaped like their bars with mountains and stars.  Their grand opening will be on August 30th with food, wine, music, and kids’ activities.  Attendees are encouraged to carpool or ride their bikes.

All Things Food: the six counties of the Magic Valley received the federal designation as a Manufacturing Community last summer.  On September 22nd, federal officials from the Department of Commerce and the Economic Development Administration will be in the Magic Valley visiting several of our food manufacturers.

Following the dissolution of Ida-Ore Planning and Development Association, (also known as Sage Community Resources and most recently the Idaho Council of Governments) Region IV Development has assumed a Revolving Loan Fund of almost $1 million to help finance business development in the ten counties of SW Idaho.  In addition, we are providing assistance to communities with infrastructure needs.

Barbara Petty, University of Idaho – Extension, reported:
One of our most well known and most visible programs especially during this time of year is our 4-H Youth Development Program.  It is county fair season social event of the year in rural counties.  Approximately 55,000 youth with be displaying projects at their respective county fairs and in eastern Idaho, the top 10% at the county fair will be invited to display at the Eastern Idaho State Fair in Blackfoot.  Through the market animal livestock sales, which are generously supported by family, friends and local businesses, many youth are setting aside money for their college education.

One of the initiatives of the State Board of Education addresses is the go on rate of our youth to some type of post high school education or job skill training.  UI Extension faculty contributed an article in the spring 2016 edition of Rural Connections discussing Extension’s contribution to helping students access training needed to be successful in our information based economy.  Nationwide only 29% of U.S. working aged adults (25+ years old) have this level of training and rural college attainment remains 10% below the national average.

This summer several of our Extension educators hosted a summer intern.  College students worked alongside the educator by developing and delivering programs, addressing the needs of our clientele.  The majority of our interns worked in the youth development area with our 4-H Food Smart program, which reaches nearly 2,000 youth each year with healthy living education.  An intern worked on a photo monitoring project in Lemhi County and there was also an intern who worked on our youth financial literacy program.  This year a new game “Night of the Living Debt” which was developed by our Extension educators along with New Mexico State University Extension was released.  You can download to your ipad or tablet from the app store.  This game has already received a gold Medal Award in International Serious Play.

Another thing I would like to highlight today is our upcoming work at Rock Creek Ranch. On June 28th an MOU was signed that would allow the UI to operate the working conservation ranch for 5 years.  UI researchers and Extension faculty will perform extensive range and grazing related research on the 10,400 acre Rock Creek Ranch owned by the Nature Conservancy and the Wood River Land Trust.  Currently there are 150 cows on the ranch.

It is summer so we have hosted numerous field days, sharing with producers the results of our field trials.  Master Gardeners have been hosting plant clinics and for those communities with farmers markets we have been sharing information to help the residents of Idaho access local foods.  A national initiative of the Association of Public and Land Grant Universities is Healthy Food Systems, Healthy People.  We are working hard to position Idaho Extension to be involved with this effort and to be competitive for future funding.

One last thing, in May I was selected to be the Director of Extension so the interim has been dropped from my title.

Pat Barclay, Idaho Council on the Environment and Industry, reported:
Their practical paths workshop this year will be held October 19th with the theme of Technology in Idaho.  The exact downtown location will be announced later as Pat is working on that.    

John Meyers, Federal Housing and Urban Development, reported:
Their office has moved to the new address of 1249 South Vinnell Way, Suite 108.  It’s in the Natural Resource Center across from Walmart on Overland.  The office number is still 208-334-1990 but they have individual numbers for his staff.  John’s direct line is 208-334-1087, Brian is 334-1338, Jerry is 334-1514, and Charles is 334-1991.

HUD will be unable to participant in the Athol Community Review because it is scheduled the first week of their new fiscal year.  He is not sure if they will have travel funding. 

The second tier of CoC funding has been announced and unfortunately because of shifts in HUD prioritizations (away from funding transitional housing towards permanent house) nine transitional housing providers were not funded; one in Boise and the other eight in the balance of the state.  Friday at the urging of Senator Crapo we are hosting a call with those providers and the administrators of both CoCs.

Stats for HUD in Idaho are as follows:

  • 8,211 Housing Choice Vouchers
  • (51,338) Single Family Mortgages for $7,014,509,597
  • 11,599,185 Community Development Block Grants
  • $3,775,551 Indian Housing Block Grants
  • $3,713,768 Continuum of Care
  • $1,021,185 ESG
  • $263,879,700 Multi-Family Insurance Endorsements

Representative Caroline Troy, Idaho State Legislature, reported:
The John Wayne Pioneer Trail and the Coeur d ‘Alene Trail have joined making it the longest rail-trail conversion in the United States. The trail follows the former railway roadbed of the Chicago, Milwaukee, St. Paul & Pacific Railroad (Milwaukee Road) for an estimated 285 miles across two-thirds of the state of Washington, from the western slopes of the Cascade Mountains through northern Idaho. 

She recently visited the Food Technology center in Caldwell.  The mission of the UI Food Technology Center is to provide a multi-use facility where individuals and food companies can receive comprehensive business, technical and educational assistance to develop or improve their food business.  It is a very impressive facility.

The Farmers Market in Moscow has been very successful this past summer. 

Senator Dan Schmidt, Idaho State Legislature, reported:  
Being a member on the JFAC committee he has just finished the legislative summer tour of Region 2.  Region 2 consists of Idaho, Nez Perce, Latah, Lewis and Clearwater counties.  Referring to a Department of Labor graph, Idaho rural communities are not growing.  The ages are getting older but the children move away from rural areas showing the population is not growing.

Senator Schmidt feels the K-12 education funding in the State of Idaho is not working appropriately.  There is a very poor distribution of funds for schools that are in property poor districts.  Idaho has the widest variation per student funding of any state in the nation.  There is an interim committee looking at that.  We will see what is proposed at the next legislative session. 

Representative Donna Pence, Idaho State Legislature, reported:
The big news in her area is the Clif Bar manufacturing plant and their grand opening.

One of the hang ups on the ABC certification is to make sure the potential teacher has classroom control and the understanding of school procedures.  Some type of training would be beneficial.  They may have the skills but they need to have an effective way to impart knowledge to the kids.

This is Representative Pence’s last board meeting as she will be leaving the legislature at the end of her term this year.  Thank you Donna for all you have done for IRP and your assistance in last year’s statute revision.

Jeff Alexander, USDA Forest Service, reported:
Large fires are going on right now in the Boise and Sawtooth National Forests.  The largest fire is the Pioneer fire in the area of Lowman, Garden Valley and Idaho City which resulted in one yurt being burned and damage to another and some out buildings were burned.   

Region 1 of the Forest Service which covers northern Idaho and Region 4 of the Forest Service which covers southern Idaho have entered into a good neighbor authority with the State of Idaho which will allow them to cross over each other’s lands.  This good neighbor policy opens up the door with coalitions between the forest service and private land owners.

Jess Byrne, Idaho Department of Environmental Quality, reported:   

DEQ is on track to submit our application for state program approval for the National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System program. The statutory deadline for us to submit the application to EPA is September 1, 2016. Along with this application, we will also be submitting a request for 10 new positions to the Governor and Legislature this year as part of our annual budget request. This will bring the total staffing level to 20 positions with the ultimate need of 29 positions. The remaining nine will be phased in over the next couple of years.

DEQ is also submitting a legislative proposal that change the threshold we use to determine whether or not crop residue can be burned as it relates to the pollutant ozone. This will allow more days for burning and is a benefit to farmers and the public because it will allow more days to spread out the acres burned. Ozone is not directly impacted by crop residue burning.

DEQ is also submitting a legislative proposal to set up the dedicated account necessary to collect fees for the Underground Storage Tank (UST) Program. Last year legislation was passed to allow DEQ to collect a maximum of $100/tank. This legislation will give us a fund to deposit those fees into.

DEQ continues to work on the challenge of maintain compliance with federal air quality standards in many areas of the state. This is much more of a challenge than regulating traditional point sources. The primary cause of most the air quality issues we are seeing are the result of many non-point sources such as automobiles and woodstove.