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Roundtable Discussions

Darrell Bolz reported:
Caldwell continues to work on its plaza in the downtown area.  The location is where a former store was located but went out of business and the building was demolished.  The plaza concept is one that Rapid City, South Dakota has done and has found it to be very successful, bringing new businesses and people to the downtown area.

Gayle Manufacturing Company based in California will be building a facility in Caldwell.  The company needed to expand and was going to build in Nampa, where it has a plant, but found a more suitable site in Caldwell.

Infrastructure needs continue to be of high priority.  Roads are of primary concern, especially

I-84 in the Nampa area.  I-84 between Caldwell and Nampa is also a concern.  Work needs to be done on it, but is not scheduled for 4-5 years out due to financial concerns.

Barbara Petty, University of Idaho - Extension, reported:
Extension has a reputation of being a resource during times of natural disasters. This past summer UI Extension was turned to as a resource to help individuals, businesses and communities cope with the raging fire and the aftermath of the fire.

The 2015 fire season was predicted to be a bad one, and it was. Given the forecast for the 2015 fire season, UI Extension Educator Bill Warren offered the workshop, “Reducing Fire Risk in the Wildland-Urban Inter-face”, in June, 2015.  In addition to the topics of defensible space around homes, the workshop presents information on the ecological/landscape context to increased wildfire incidence in the west, as well as instruction of wildland fire behavior, wildland firefighting in the WUI, and county emergency management response and evacuation.

During the midst of the fire Extension offices were used as collection sites for donation of water, gaterade, food, etc for the firefighters.  In Owyhee county 15+ full pickup bed loads of supplies were distributed while the fire was active.

Our UI Extension officers were also used to coordinate donations of hay and other resources for distribution to the ranchers in need. They received donations of ~ 400 tons of hay. UI Extension Educator Scott Jensen has been part of a group who has overseen the distribution of seed (~ 50,000 lbs.) that has been donated for use on private acres that burnedIn northern Idaho UI Extension Educator Jim Church in Idaho County coordinated a Hay and Pasture exchange – developing a list of available forages to make available to those in need.

After the fires hit Extension began distributed over 400 fire recovery information packets to affected communities in north central Idaho. In addition, a special edition of the fall Extension Newsletter was issued devoted to fire recovery information for landowners and was mailed to 2,600 rural landowners in the valley’s fire-affected areas, with over 200 distributed to local businesses and agencies for public distribution.

Extension filled the need for coordination among agencies and across jurisdictions by taking the lead in providing a forum for multiagency coordination for conducting post-fire assessment and to provide assistance to landowners. This effort eventually resulted in the establishment of a formal five-county organization to conduct region-wide fire assessment and provide fire recovery assistance to landowners.

Extension also organized five public information events on Fire Recovery Assistance Programs for Rural Landowners that provided “one stop shopping” for landowners affected by the fires to learn about agency financial and technical assistance for fire recovery. These events were held in the communities of Kamiah, Orofino, Craigmont, Fraser and Riggins, and were attended by a total of 161 landowners and 67 agency representatives. Finally, Extension conducted two fire recovery workshops focused on salvage logging and erosion control. Additional workshops will focus on weeds, forest insects, and pasture and range land recovery. Additional fire recovery and prevention programing will be made available in 2016 as we learn more about landowner needs for fire recovery through the ongoing assessment of the 2015 fires.

In addition to responding to the fire, UI Extension is also working to help prepare Idaho residents to reduce the impact of fire.  We received one of eight innovation grants to develop a simulation to help individuals learn the impact of landscaping and home construction materials on wildfire.  The project is called “Lighting the Education Fire with Virtual Environments and Oculus Rift Technology.” Through using virtual technology people can experience and repeatedly practice in a risk-free environment before applying to multi-variable real world challenges.

Direct Admission
Idaho has the lowest rate of our young people going on to higher education of any state in the nation.  As a result President Staben proposed to the state board of education along with the support of the other state institutions Direct Admissions. Every high school student who meets certain criteria will be admitted into our state 4 year institutions and those who meet different criteria will be admitted into our 2 year institutions and training programs.  On November 10th, UI Extension offices hosted “Enroll Idaho” which was designed to explain the Direct Admissions program to students and their families.  Phase 2 of “Enroll Idaho”will be held on January 19th and will provide information on how to finance a college education.

Ann Joslin, Idaho Commission for Libraries reported:
Thanks to Stephanie Cook for recommending a Commission presentation for the recent annual conference of the Idaho Economic Development Association. Shirley Biladeau and Teresa Lipus from our staff joined Josh Hightree to give an overview of public libraries’ role in local economic development and of Josh’s 2014 meta-analysis of IRP’s community reviews. The conference attendees had good questions, and a few were aware of specific library examples such as the Boundary County Library District’s FabLab and the resources it provides to Bonners Ferry and the surrounding area.

The interim legislative committee on broadband has met 4 times, and received testimony from a variety of vendors, agencies, and organizations. The Commission was invited to provide testimony on the need public libraries have for broadband capacity to deliver their services. The FCC’s current definition of broadband is 25 Mbps download speed and 4 Mbps upload; there are many areas of the state that don’t have access to or can’t afford that capacity. The interim committee is developing recommendations for the full legislature based on the input they’ve received. The next meeting is scheduled for December 21. All presentations and reports delivered to the committee as well as meeting minutes are posted on the website: http://legislature.idaho.gov/sessioninfo/2015/interim/broadband.htm.

The Commission is working on two new education initiatives:

  • Microsoft IT Academy. The legislature funded the Department of Education (SDE) for a 1-year pilot implementation of MS IT Academy in high schools and public libraries on an opt-in basis. The purpose is to enable more Idaho students and adults gain higher level IT skills, including Microsoft Certification, and therefore improve their employability. SDE is managing the process, and the Commission is working with them to reach public library staff with information and training and to make adjustments where needed to be applicable to libraries and independent learners.

Most participating high schools are offering the instructor-guided classroom curriculum, and most participating public libraries are offering the self-guided online curriculum. Public libraries can also choose to be a certification testing center but the cost of the tests (which range from $80 to $120) for adults is not paid with the state funds. The Commission identified two groups that likely will find the testing cost to be a barrier: adults in poverty and veterans. A pilot project for veterans is underway at the Mt. Home Public Library; if it’s successful, it will be introduced in other participating libraries. Ways to reduce barriers for adults in poverty are still being explored.

  • LearnStorm.  The Albertson Family Foundation is funding the Khan Academy to bring a second-year pilot to Idaho. LearnStorm, piloted last year in the Bay Area, is a free, 9-week math challenge designed to build perseverance and grit in students grades 3-12. LearnStorm rewards progress and perseverance equally. Students can work independently and as members of a team, and can work on LearnStorm from anywhere – at home, school or library. The year 2 pilot sites are the Bay Area, Chicago, Ireland, and Idaho; the Idaho pilot is involving public libraries from the outset. Planning is in process now, and the 9-week challenge will begin at the end of January 2016.

Stephanie Cook, Idaho National Laboratory, reported:
IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (Aug. 20, 2015) – Ron Townsend, Chair of Battelle Energy Alliance’s (BEA) Board of Managers, announced today that Mark Peters, Ph.D., will be the next director of Idaho National Laboratory (INL). Peters will be officially joining INL in his new role on Oct. 1.

“Mark’s recognized leadership in all fields of energy research—including energy storage, renewable energy, energy efficiency  and nuclear energy—and national security makes him an ideal choice as the next Lab Director of INL,” said Townsend, who also serves as Battelle Executive Vice President of Global Laboratory Operations. “As the leading research institution for nuclear energy solutions, other clean energy options and critical infrastructure, INL will benefit from the strong leadership and passionate commitment that Mark has demonstrated throughout his career.”

Peters’ experience is strongly aligned with INL’s programmatic portfolio. Prior to joining INL, Peters served as Argonne National Laboratory’s Associate Laboratory Director for the lab’s Energy and Global Security directorate, which includes Argonne’s programs in energy research and national security. As a recognized expert in nuclear fuel cycle technologies and nuclear waste management, Peters is called upon frequently to provide expert testimony to Congress and to advise in formulation of policies for nuclear fuel cycles, nonproliferation and nuclear waste disposal. He is active in leadership positions with the American Nuclear Society (ANS) and was recently named an ANS Fellow, the highest honor bestowed by the Society.

“I’ve had the opportunity to work with Mark on globally significant nuclear energy matters and am pleased to welcome him to Idaho,” said John Kotek, the U.S. Department of Energy’s assistant secretary for Nuclear Energy. “I look forward to our continued collaboration when he is in his new role as director of INL.”

Peters earned his doctorate in Geophysical Sciences from the University of Chicago and his bachelor’s degree in Geology from Auburn University. He has also received extensive management and leadership education and training, including completion of the Strategic Laboratory Leadership Program at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business. His full bio and a portrait photo are available online at https://www.inl.gov/mark-peters-bio.

Peters succeeds John Grossenbacher as INL laboratory director. Grossenbacher announced in November 2014 that FY2015 would be his last year as INL laboratory director. He led the BEA bid that was awarded the contract to manage and operate INL in February 2005. Under his leadership, INL transformed into a leading laboratory recognized nationally and internationally for its research programs and capabilities as well as the value of its applied research and development programs to sponsors across academia and industry.

“John’s service as INL lab director has had a tremendous impact on the success and growth of the laboratory, and I join the energy community in thanking him for his strong leadership and vision,” said Kotek.

About Battelle
Every day, the people of Battelle apply science and technology to solving what matters most. At major technology centers and national laboratories around the world, Battelle conducts research and development, designs and manufactures products, and delivers critical services for government and commercial customers. Headquartered in Columbus, Ohio since its founding in 1929, Battelle serves the national security, health and life sciences, and energy and environmental industries. For more information, visit www.battelle.org.

About Idaho National Laboratory
Idaho National Laboratory is part of the Department of Energy’s complex of national laboratories. INL is the nation’s leading center of nuclear energy research and development, performing work in each of DOE’s strategic goal areas — energy systems, science and innovation, nuclear safety and security. Battelle Energy Alliance manages INL’s day-to-day operations. For more information, visit http://inl.gov.

FACT SHEET: Obama Administration Announces Actions to Ensure that Nuclear Energy Remains a Vibrant Component of the United States’ Clean Energy Strategy

As detailed in the Climate Action Plan, President Obama is committed to using every appropriate tool to combat climate change.  Nuclear power, which in 2014 generated about 60 percent of carbon-free electricity in the United States, continues to play a major role in efforts to reduce carbon emissions from the power sector.  As America leads the global transition to a low-carbon economy, the continued development of new and advanced nuclear technologies along with support for currently operating nuclear power plants is an important component of our clean energy strategy. Investing in the safe and secure development of nuclear power also helps advance other vital policy objectives in the national interest, such as maintaining economic competitiveness and job creation, as well as enhancing nuclear nonproliferation efforts, nuclear safety and security, and energy security.

The President’s FY 2016 Budget includes more than $900 million for the Department of Energy (DOE) to support the U.S. civilian nuclear energy sector by leading federal research, development, and demonstration efforts in nuclear energy technologies, ranging from power generation, safety, hybrid energy systems, and security technologies, among other things.  DOE also supports the deployment of these technologies with $12.5 billion in remaining loan guarantee authority for advanced nuclear projects through Title 17. DOE’s investments in nuclear energy help secure the three strategic objectives that are foundational to our nation’s energy system: energy security, economic competitiveness, and environmental responsibility.

Today, the White House is announcing and highlighting the following actions to sustain and advance nuclear energy, including:

  • Launching the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear:DOE is establishing the Gateway for Accelerated Innovation in Nuclear (GAIN) to provide the nuclear energy community with access to the technical, regulatory, and financial support necessary to move new or advanced nuclear reactor designs toward commercialization while ensuring the continued safe, reliable, and economic operation of the existing nuclear fleet. GAIN will provide the nuclear community with a single point of access to the broad range of capabilities – people, facilities, materials, and data – across the DOE complex and its National Lab capabilities. Focused research opportunities and dedicated industry engagement will also be important components of GAIN, ensuring that DOE-sponsored activities are impactful to companies working to realize the full potential of nuclear energy. GAIN will feature:
    •    Access to Capabilities: Through the Clean Energy Investment Center in DOE’s Office of Technology Transitions (OTT), GAIN will provide a single point of contact for users interested in a wide range of nuclear energy related capabilities and expertise. As an initiating step, Idaho National Lab will serve as the GAIN integrator for Office of Nuclear Energy capabilities.
    •    Nuclear Energy Infrastructure Database: DOE is also publishing the Nuclear Energy Infrastructure database (NEID), which provides a catalogue of existing nuclear energy related infrastructure that will enhance transparency and support nuclear community engagement through GAIN.  NEID currently includes information on 802 research and development instruments in 377 facilities at 84 institutions in the United States and abroad.  Nuclear technology developers can access the database to identify resources available to support development and implementation of their technology, as well as contacts, availability, and the process for accessing the capability.
    •    Small Business Vouchers: To support the strong interest in nuclear energy from a significant number of new companies working to develop advanced nuclear energy technologies, DOE plans to make $2 million available in the form of vouchers to provide assistance to small business applicants (including entrepreneur-led start-ups) seeking to access the knowledge and capabilities available across the DOE complex. This will enhance the ability of GAIN to serve a broader segment of the nuclear community. Information on available capabilities can be found HERE.
    • Assisting Navigation of the Regulatory Process: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC), consistent with its role as an independent safety and security regulator, will provide DOE with accurate, current information on the NRC’s regulations and licensing processes. DOE will work through GAIN with prospective applicants for advanced nuclear technology to understand and navigate the regulatory process for licensing new reactor technology.
  • Convening Second Workshop on Advanced Non-Light Water Reactors – The NRC and DOE will hold the Second Advanced Non-Light Water Reactors Workshops in spring 2016.  The successful first workshop was held in September 2015.  The purpose of the workshop is to explore options for increased efficiency, from both a technical and regulatory perspective, in the safe development and deployment of innovative reactor technologies. This would include examining both near-term and longer-term opportunities to test, demonstrate, and construct prototype advanced reactors, and evaluate the most appropriate licensing processes.
  •   Supplementing Loan Guarantee Solicitation for Nuclear Energy: Today, DOE is supplementing its existing solicitation that makes up to $12.5 billion in loan guarantees available to support innovative nuclear energy projects.  The solicitation states that eligible projects can include construction of advanced nuclear reactors, small modular reactors, uprates and upgrades at existing facilities, and front-end nuclear facilities.  In addition, the new supplement clarifies that project costs for an eligible project that are incurred as part of the NRC licensing process, such as design certification, construction permits, and combined construction and operating licenses (COL), could be eligible costs that may be financed with a loan guaranteed by DOE. 
  •   Establishing Light Water Reactor (LWR) Research, Development, and Deployment Working Group: DOE is formally announcing the establishment of the LWR Research, Development, and Deployment (RDD) Working Group to examine possible needs for future RDD to support the development of competitive advanced LWRs, as well as maintain the safe, efficient operations of currently operating nuclear power plants. The group will consist of federal, national laboratory, and industry participants. Recommendations are expected to DOE by February 2016.
  •   Addressing Small Modular Reactor Needs through Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors:Today, DOE’s Consortium for Advanced Simulation of Light Water Reactors (CASL) is signing an agreement with NuScale to establish new cost-shared modeling and simulation tools under the CASL Energy Innovation Hub at Oak Ridge National Laboratory. This agreement specifies the work that will be done by CASL to install and support the use of its virtual reactor tools on NuScale systems and by NuScale to simulate performance questions using CASL tools.  Through this agreement, CASL tools will be expanded to better simulate SMR operation and inform design decisions. These efforts can lead to more efficient reactor designs that improve lifetime operation in a power plant.                              
  • Investing in SMR Licensing: DOE began investing up to $452 million dollars over six years starting in FY 2012 to support first-of-a-kind engineering costs associated with certification and licensing activities for SMRs through the NRC. By utilizing cost-share agreements with private industry through a licensing technical support program, DOE supports the domestic development of these innovative nuclear technologies, thereby strengthening American manufacturing capabilities and the associated nuclear supply chain, improving domestic employment opportunities, and creating important export opportunities for the United States. It is expected that the first SMR design application will be submitted to the NRC in late-2016.
  • Designing a Modernized LWR Control Room: DOE is partnering with Arizona Public Service’s Palo Verde Nuclear Generating Station to design a modernized control room for an operating commercial LWR. Working together through a cost-shared partnership, DOE’s LWR Sustainability Program and Palo Verde will consider the best way to replace traditional analog systems with digital systems that optimize control room operations. This work supports the long-term sustainability and efficiency of the currently operating nuclear power plants by assisting nuclear utilities to address reliability and obsolescence issues of legacy analog control rooms.

Jim Werntz, Environmental Protection Agency – Idaho Operations, reported: 
EPA Budget:   The Continuing Resolution (CR) for Agencies under the Interior Appropriations runs out this Friday, December 11.  Congress is said to be planning a short term (1-week) CR to prevent a shutdown. 

Nutrient Recycling Challenge:    EPA, ISDA, Pork and Dairy Producers, and several universities have launched a competition to develop affordable technologies that recycle nutrients from livestock waste.   With over one billion tons of livestock manure generated in the United States each year, the opportunity to better manage valuable nutrients (phosphorous and nitrogen) is the focus of the competition.   The four phase competition, started on Nov. 16, includes cash awards of up to a combined $20,000 split among four semi-finalists.   Participants are challenged to develop technologies that extract nutrients from livestock manure in order to generate products (for sale or on-farm use) with environmental and economic benefits.  Final awards to be announced in January 2017, with farm demonstration pilot projects to follow.   www.nutrientrecyclingchallenge.org

Coeur d’Alene Basin Clean-Up Report:   EPA, working with IDEQ, has accomplished much on the long-term clean-up effort of the Silver Valley and areas downstream in the Coeur d’Alene River Basin.   Approximately $35 million of clean-up investment occurred during 2015, employing over 400 people, nearly all who live in or near the Silver Valley.   Some highlights:

  • Removal of 43,000 cubic yards of contaminated soils from the Ninemile Creek area, to reduce metal loading to surface water,
  • $6.7 million of projects to protect existing remedies from the impacts of flooding,
  • 3,000 foot pilot bank stabilization project in the Lower Basin in a frequently used recreational area,
  • Paving 19 miles of roads in community areas that serve as barriers to waste, and
  • Clean-up of 75 residential and commercial properties (over 1.5 million square feet)

West Silver Valley Air Quality Grant:   The West Silver Valley has harmful levels of particulate matter in their air, and Idaho DEQ has been working with the communities to develop a plan to reduce emissions and bring the air quality back to healthy levels.   To assist in this endeavor, US-EPA is providing a $2.48 million grant to Idaho DEQ that will assist the community to complete projects that will reduce emissions from wood stoves and open burning in the Valley.

Art Beal, Idaho Resource and Development Association, reported:
Not much change in our membership.  We are looking at and applying for grants that cover wider areas.  So far we haven’t heard from any sources.

The two RC&D’s in southwest Idaho continue to work on river trails.  The West Central Highlands continues to support a variety of interests; woody biomass, coordinated weed management areas and two forest coalitions.  The Boise Forest Coalition and its cooperative efforts with the area around Bogus Basin is what I want to share today.

Not only is Bogus in one of the critical areas defined by the Governor, it is also a recreation area.  One of the problems is the dead and diseased trees in the area; another is it affects the use of the area for recreation, another is how to remove the material, another is how to remove the material from the site, and how to pay for the whole project.  The US Forest Service has a good handle on what needs to be done with the stand to create a healthy environment to restore forest health and the coalition agrees in the most part.  There have been many discussions on how best remove the dead and diseased material from the site.   When is the best time of day, and year to bring the material that will affect Boise?  What does the public information need to look like and where to post it to make Boise aware?  How will it affect the use of Bogus Basin area, closures of areas, logging schedules, and public use schedules?

The Forest Service has some funds to address some of the issues and they are getting a handle on how much can be used from the timber sales in the area.

In the rest of the area between Boise and Idaho City, because of the mixed ownerships, the Squaw Creek Soil Conservation District is looking at ways to coordinate efforts for total forest health as they can work with private landowners.

 John Meyers, HUD, reported:

  1. On October 15th Bill Block, our Regional Administrator stepped down.  Donna Batch our DRA has been named Acting Regional Administrator.
  2. The City of Caldwell has joined the ranks of Idaho Entitlement Communities, meaning they will get direct CDBG funds from HUD.  We estimate in FY2016 they will receive a little over $400,000in direct grants ($403,000).
  3. We are currently drafting our local 2016 operating plan – if you have any joint programs you would like to work on with HUD, please let us know asap.
  4. Final Rule for defining Chronic Homeless was published December 4th.  It will be used for Continuum of Care, and in the consolidated Submissions for Community Planning and development programs.  It becomes effective January 4, 2016.
  5. Fair Housing Month will be in April 2016.  Major training will be held on April 5th and 6th at Boise City Hall in the City Council Chambers.
  6. Foreclosures: Yesterday CoreLogic released its yearly foreclosure report.  Nationwide Foreclosure inventory is down 21.5 percent from October 2014 and completed foreclosures declined by 27.1 percent.  The number of completed foreclosures nationwide decreased year over year from 51,000 in October 2014 to 37,000 in October 2015.  The number of completed foreclosures in October 2015 was down 68.2 percent from the peak of 117,543 in September 2010.  As of October 2015, the national foreclosure inventory included approximately 463,000 or 1.2 percent of all homes with mortgage compared with 589,000 or 1.5 percent in October 2014.  This is the lowest rate since November 2007.
  7. CoreLogic also reports that the number of mortgages in serious delinquency (defined as 90 days or more past due, including those loans in foreclosure or REO) declined by 19.7 percent from October 2014 to October 2015 with 1.3 million mortgages, or 3.4 percent in this category.  This is the lowest serious delinquency rate since December 2007.

Erik Kingston, Idaho Housing and Finance Association, reported:
Erik announced the start of IHFA’s 2015 Avenues for Hope campaign to raise funds for emergency shelter and housing programs throughout Idaho. From its inception in 2011, the event has raised over $650,000 for Idaho nonprofits from individual donors and matching funds; in 2014 alone $273,398 from 1,206 donors and corporate sponsors was disbursed to 29 organizations. This year, IHFA and other businesses sponsoring the campaign will contribute up to $200,000 in matching funds and challenge grant prizes.

He also pointed to the severe shortage of rental housing within reach of a large segment of the working poor. An individual working full-time for minimum wage would need to work 79 hours per week to afford the average rent for a 2-bdrm apartment in the Treasure Valley. The number of subsidized housing units is shrinking each year as apartment complexes are converted to market rate, and those remaining all have waiting lists. Estimates are that 5,000 to 6,000 households in Ada County are what’s known as ‘housing cost burdened,’ meaning they spend more than 50% of total household income on housing.

Tim Solomon, Rocky Mountain Power, reported:
PacifiCorp, a Berkshire Hathaway Energy company, serves six (6) Western states including Wyoming, Idaho, Utah, Washington, Oregon, and California.  Rocky Mountain Power, a member of the PacifiCorp family, serves portions of Idaho, Wyoming, and Utah.  Our service territory in Idaho includes many rural Idaho customers and communities. 

The Rocky Mountain Power Foundation is constantly looking for excellent grant opportunities throughout our service territory.  The Foundation works in four (4) grant cycles.  Information on each can be found at this link: https://www.rockymountainpower.net/about/itc/foundation.html.  Due to the territory we serve, many grants have been given to rural communities over the years.

Renewable energy continues to be an integral part of Berkshire Hathaway Energy.  At this point, the company is the 2nd largest wind generation owner among regulated, investor owned utilities in the United States. Of course, as utilities continue to make renewable energy a larger part of generation portfolios, the costs of energy will adjust accordingly.  We continue to work with, and encourage, customers to adopt energy efficiency practices that will help conserve resources and reduce the need to build so many new generating plants in the future.

John Russ, Idaho Department of Labor reported:

  • Nursing course conducted for 8 people in Salmon- Salmon Economic Development along with others were awarded a $25,000.00 Micro Grant from the Idaho Department of Labor to conduct training for 25 C N A’s in the Salmon area.  Prior to this grant people would have had to travel over 125 miles to receive training and certification testing. 
  • Mountain Home High School is conducting a coding camp “micro grants”- Mountain Home High School in cooperation with Mountain Home Economic Development were awarded a $25,000.00 grant to start a CAD program and code camp in the high school.  This is to help fill the demand being voiced by local business.

Harty Schmaehl, Idaho Development Company, reported:
Because of the summer fires in Kamiah, building contractors will be busy for the next one to two years.  The Schmaehls’ were considering to expand their business to include a resort but now contractors are in high demand doing other jobs.  The lease for the building they own in Pocatello that houses the post office has been renewed for three years.  They would like to sell that building in the future.

Joe Herring, Region IV Development, reported:
The Seneca Foods Plant, which has stood for decades, is closing its food processing operation.  About 30 employees are losing their jobs over the next six months as the plant winds down.  Farmers who contracted to grow Seneca’s sweet corn also have been notified.  Many seasonal workers will go without supplemental wages from Seneca’s work.  The plant’s seed division will continue to operate.  Seneca Foods still makes Green Giant canned products which is 13% of Seneca’s annual sales.  The company also owns a cannery in Payette that will not close. 

Dale Lish, USDA – Rural Development, reported:
Dale administers the USDA’s renewal energy program (REAP) that provides guaranteed loan financing and grant funding to agricultural producers and rural small businesses to purchase or install renewable energy systems or make energy efficiency improvements.  Agricultural producers with at least 50% of gross income coming from agricultural operations and small businesses in rural areas are eligible to apply.  Funds may be used for the purchase, installation, improvements, and construction of renewable energy systems.  Last year they distributed $1.3 million in Idaho through a competitive process.  About 70% of last year’s grants were for solar devices. They also had some small hyro-plants, biomass processing equipment, and LED lighting for dairy barns.  Any questions about this grant, contact Dale or check out their website www.rd.usda.gov/programs-services/rural-energy-america-program-renewable-energy-systems-energy-efficiency.

Danelle Highfill, US Forest Service, reported:
The Forest Service is analyzing proposed vegetation and watershed restoration, recreation improvement and enhancement, and local economic support activities in the 19,327-acre Becker Integrated Resource Project area on the Idaho City Ranger District of the Boise National Forest. The area is located approximately 18 miles northeast of Idaho City, Idaho, and about 48 miles northeast of Boise, Idaho, in Boise County.  The purpose of the proposed action is as follows:
• Contribute to the restoration of low- to mid-elevation forests within the non-lethal and mixed1 fire regime in the project area.

• Improve watershed conditions by reducing motorized route-related impacts to water resources and fish, soil, and wildlife and associated habitats while providing for a safe and efficient transportation system necessary to meet long-term management needs.

• Improve and enhance the quality and diversity of recreational opportunities in the Middle Crooked River and Pikes Fork subwatersheds.

• Support the local and regional economies by providing enhanced recreational opportunities, by utilizing wood products from the suited timber base, and by implementing forest restoration activities.

Highlights of the project include 13,428 acres of vegetation management and fuels treatments, authorizing 31.9 miles of non-motorized summer trails, authorizing 60.2 miles of non-motorized winter trails, including a winter motorized restriction area surrounding the winter non-motorized trails, and removing barriers on 23 culverts to improve fish passage. Proposed activities would generate approximately 5.5 million board feet of commercial saw timber, 2.9 million board feet miscellaneous wood products, and additional direct and indirect support to local and regional economies.

The preferred alternative is Alternative C. This alternative proposes vegetation and watershed restoration, and recreation improvements and enhancement activities, and supports the local and regional economies. Alternative C responds to the purpose and need, and incorporates the recommendations and concerns expressed in comment letters, and public meetings. The project documents are available electronically on the project Web page located at: http://www.fs.usda.gov/project/?project=18922.

It is anticipated that the Final Environmental Impact Statement (FEIS) and Draft Record of Decision (DROD) will be released in February 2015.