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Mountain lion attacked dogs in three adjacent fenced back yards in Surprise Valley, two of the dogs died…

Three next-door neighbors in east Boise have had their small dogs attacked by a mountain lion in their fenced back yards in the past two weeks, and two of the dogs have died. Fish & Game officials are calling on the public to immediately report incidents with mountain lions in town. The three attacks happened at Surprise Valley, a neighborhood on the city’s eastern edge that backs up to native sagebrush land; it’s the first mountain lion incident reported in Boise this spring, but the city’s had plenty in recent years. You can read my full story here at spokesman.com.

“We have mountain lions in Boise all the time,” said Evin Oneale, Southwest Idaho regional conservation educator for the Idaho Department of Fish and Game. “They come and go all the time. Some of them we see, some of them we don’t, but they don’t tend to cause any issues or hang around. It’s when we have a lion like this that exhibits this kind of behavior that our awareness of the situation becomes heightened.”

Fish & Game learned of the big cat when a Surprise Valley resident called the sheriff’s department yesterday morning. She’d let her two Yorkshire terriers out into her backyard about 5:30 a.m., and a few minutes later, heard a yelp; click below to read more.

Boise ranks among top 10 cities in the nation - for yoga

In what top-10 ranking does Boise join nine other much-larger cities from across the nation, from the San Francisco metro area (No. 1) to Seattle-Tacoma (2),  Philadelphia (3), New York City and Washington D.C. (tied for 4), Baltimore (6), Boston (7), Portland (8) and San Diego (tied for 9th)? The answer: Yoga.

Forbes Magazine reported Friday on the “Top 10 Cities for Yoga in the U.S.,” and while the S.F. Bay Area was tops with its population 59 percent more likely to practice yoga than the general U.S. population, Boise made the list, tied for ninth place with San Diego, with the residents of both rated as 21 percent more likely.

“Idaho may seem like an unlikely hotspot for yoga,” the magazine wrote. It also reported, “The most yoga-mad metro area in the nation: San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose, Calif., where residents are 59% more likely to practice yoga than the general U.S. population. The Bay Area has long been at the forefront of the American yoga scene — San Francisco was, after all, the first city to set up a yoga room at its airport.” You can read Forbes’ full report here.

With unanimous council vote, Boise bans job, housing discrimination against gays

Boise has become Idaho's second city to enact an ordinance banning discrimination in employment, housing or public accommodations based on sexual orientation or gender identity; the Boise City Council last night voted unanimously in favor of the ordinance, a move that was followed by a standing ovation in a packed Capitol Auditorium. You can see a full report here from KBOI2 News.

Sandpoint last year became the first Idaho city to enact such an ordinance; Pocatello has one in the works. It's an issue the Idaho Legislature has repeatedly refused to consider, despite an outpouring of support across the state last year for the “Add the Words” campaign, which called for adding the words “sexual orientation” and “gender identity” to the Idaho Human Rights Act. That's the law that currently makes it illegal to fire someone, evict them or deny them service in a restaurant on the basis of race, sex, color, national origin, religion, age or disability. The state legislation has been rejected for six straight years; this year's push included well-attended rallies across the state, including one that drew more than a thousand people to the state Capitol.

Boise's ordinance takes effect Jan. 1; it exempts churches and private organizations like the Boy Scouts.

Layers of fog and clouds…

Layers of fog and clouds decorate the skies over Boise this morning, where the overnight low dropped into the 30s, but highs today are expected to get up as high as 51 degrees. There's a 30 percent chance of rain today, rising to 90 percent tomorrow, according to the National Weather Service.

Boiseans pack five-hour hearing to support anti-discrimination ordinance

Hundreds of Boiseans turned out for a five-hour public hearing last night, with nearly all in favor of a proposed city ordinance to ban discrimination in housing and public accommodations on the basis of sexual orientation or gender identity. Citizens shared emotional stories of living in fear of losing their jobs if employers found out they were gay; business leaders said the ordinance will help the city attract employers. You can read the Boise Weekly's account here, and the Idaho Statesman's report here; and see KTVB-TV's report here and KBOI2 News' report here.

For some background, here's a link to my Aug. 5 story on how Idaho's cities are moving to ban such discrimination, after the the state Legislature repeatedly refused to consider legislation for a statewide ban. Boise's City Council is expected to vote on the ordinance Dec. 4.

Art is everywhere…

Boise is holding its 58th annual Art in the Park festival this weekend at Julia Davis Park, a fundraiser for the Boise Art Museum that's also a spectacular place to find one-of-a-kind holiday gifts, if you're planning ahead. But you don't have to go to the park to find art downtown. Among the public art there are nine newly decorated traffic boxes, unveiled for First Thursday this past week, each with an Idaho artist's unique design; that brings the total number to 53. This one's by Yen Ching restaurant on 9th Street. City  public art manager Karen Bubb says, “The program brings public art to the street, decreases graffiti, and increases the unique character of Boise.”
  

A ‘Boise, Idaho rainbow sunrise’…

When my daughter, now 21, was little, she used to call this a “Boise, Idaho rainbow sunrise,” and to this day, the phrase comes to mind when I see one. This morning's is gorgeous; it's chilly, just 34 degrees, but something to see.

New hope for filling the big hole in the heart of downtown Boise

Here's a news item from the Associated Press:  BOISE, Idaho (AP) — A Meridian developer says he has signed a contract to buy a prime chunk of real estate in downtown Boise that has been vacant for years. Officials from The Gardner Co. say they have agreed to buy the parcel on the corner of 8th and Main streets from Capps Holdings LLC, which acquired the land in a foreclosure auction two years ago. Gardner Co. Chief Operating Officer Tommy Ahlquist said Wednesday the deal hinges on resolving a handful of issues. He says the company is doing a study to determine what kind of project best fits the property. The site has been vacant since 1987 and is nothing more than a hollow pit. Financial and legal problems scuttled previous plans to build a 25-story tower at the site.

Incidentally, the site became vacant back in '87 when the historic Eastman Building, a grand, multistory sandstone structure that had been vacant for years but for which restoration plans had just been announced, caught fire in the middle of an icy night, thanks to a squatter's campfire, and burned to the ground. I covered the fire as a young reporter for the Statesman, after having just spent a couple of days amassing info on the building's history for a planned story on its looming renovation as part of the city's downtown redevelopment; that evaporated with the flames. Boise's been awaiting the next step ever since.

Last night’s whopper of a storm was fifth-biggest lightning show in a decade

It's amazingly calm and mild in Boise this morning, with only a few puddles testifying to last night's wild weather - massive amounts of lightning, hard, soaking rains, and whipping wind gusts. We lost power at 10 p.m., which meant TV and computer were silenced in favor of watching the incredible lightning show by candlelight for the next hour and a half. The Boise Police reported two lightning-caused fires totaling 12 acres. “At about 11 p.m., as firefighters had the fires both under control, fire crews had to retreat to their vehicles for their own safety as another very active storm cell brought numerous lightning strikes to the area,” reports BPD spokeswoman Lynn Hightower. “Fortunately the storm also brought moderate to heavy rainfall. Crews were clearing from both fires by midnight.”

The Idaho Statesman reported that a Garden City man was struck by lightning while standing in the front doorway of his home, touching a metal screen door frame; he was taken to the hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

Valerie Mills, a meteorologist and senior forecaster with the National Weather Service in Boise, said there were about 50 lightning strikes recorded in Ada County, the fifth-most in the last 10 years. “So yeah, it was a big night,” she said. The violent storm was kicked off by Boise's first really hot day of the year, which wasn't a record but hit 95 degrees. “We had warming below, and cooling aloft,” Mills said. “We also had moisture. That added instability, and the moisture that we had was just the ingredient that was needed to trigger those thunderstorms.” It wasn't the typical Idaho rainstorm - a few drops, a lot of wind, and it's over. Instead, the whopper of a storm was enough to clear out worsening air quality, water everyone's lawns and put on a big light show. “It was quite a day for Ada County, in fact other areas around too, in southeastern Oregon and Southwest Idaho,” Mills said.

Water, water, everywhere…

There's even some snow mixed in this morning here in the Boise foothills, in this spring that still doesn't seem to have sprung. Here, the rain on my window yesterday afternoon turned the green Boise spring landscape into an impressionist painting. According to the Natural Resources Conservation Service, year-to-date precipitation is well above average in every basin in Idaho, from 119 percent in the Boise basin to 139 percent in the Bruneau. Plus, the “snow-water equivalent,” the measure that shows the depth of water in the snowpack if it were melted, is running even higher - from a statewide low of 113 percent of normal in the Big Lost River basin to a whopping 326 percent of normal in the Weiser River basin; that shows the risk of flooding…

Oh, my, look at that sky…

Wild weather, fog, clouds and flashes of blue sky combined to bring this sunset over Boise this evening, as the rain-pelted snow on the ground turns to slush…

Hot-air balloons to return to Boise skies

For the first time in several years, and eight years after the demise of the Boise River Festival, dozens of colorful hot air balloons will fill the sky over Boise the weekend after next, as part of the “Spirit of Boise Balloon Classic.” The event, which celebrates the 100th anniversary of flight in Idaho, will be Sept. 2-5, and will include a “Night Glow” show and concert in Ann Morrison Park from 6 to 10 p.m. on the Saturday evening, Sept. 4th.  Close to 30 hot air balloons are scheduled to participate.

The event is being spearheaded by Peak Broadcasting, and backed by the Idaho Lottery, the state of Idaho, the city of Boise, the Federal Aviation Administration, Lighter Than Air America Inc., KTVB-TV and many others; click here for the full rundown. “This is a family-friendly community event at Ann Morrison Park and attendance is free to the public,” Peak Broadcasting said in a press release. The balloon classic will include 7:15 a.m. balloon launches each day, military aircraft flyovers, balloon flight competitions, and balloon aviation history displays. It’ll also include a candlelight vigil against child abuse in conjunction with the Night Glow concert event.

The mass balloon launches were the hallmark of the Boise River Festival, a huge multi-day festival that included a signature parade and big array of concerts and activities, but that ended after it ran into financial trouble. After the end of the festival in 2002, separate Boise balloon rallies were held each year from 2003 to 2006.

Sunset over Boise…

The unsettled weather that’s marked June in Boise so far this year has led to some dramatic sunsets, like this one on Friday night.

See-through building?

With all the thunderstorms and clouds floating around Boise this week, the weather has been changeable and mysterious. In this photo taken late yesterday afternoon, the sky appears to show right through this downtown high-rise, thanks to the reflections.

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About this blog

Betsy Z. Russell covers Idaho news from The Spokesman-Review's bureau in Boise.

Named best state-based political blog in Idaho for 2013 by The Fix

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