May 22, 2011 in Idaho

Eye on Boise: Six receive state Medal of Honor

By The Spokesman-Review
 
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Background and the latest updates

It was an evening last June when an EMS crew from the Coeur d’Alene Fire Department was dispatched to a scene where a vehicle had crashed into a home.

Firefighters Nathan Hyder and Dylan Clark found a truck crashed into the garage, its wheels still spinning, its accelerator pressed to the floor, with the female driver unconscious inside and the garage so filled with black smoke and flying debris from the spinning tires that there was no visibility at all.

Despite great risk, the two donned their breathing apparatus, entered the garage, broke out a window of the pickup, turned off the ignition and rescued the driver, saving her life.

Now they’ve both been awarded the State of Idaho Law Enforcement, Firefighting and EMS Medal of Honor, as have three Boise police officers, Adam Crist, Casey Hancuff and Jason Rose, who rescued a critically injured shooting victim in August 2010; and, posthumously, U.S. Forest Service law enforcement officer Brent “Jake” Jacobson, who was killed in a gunfight in 1989. Jacobson was pursuing brothers James and Joseph Pratt after a home-invasion robbery and hostage situation in Sagle when he was shot to death.

The honors were bestowed Friday at the annual Idaho Peace Officers Memorial ceremony.

The Medal of Honor was established by the Idaho Legislature in 2004. The first recipient was slain North Idaho state Trooper Linda Huff.

Idaho Attorney General Lawrence Wasden, who chairs the Idaho Medal of Honor Commission, said of this year’s Medal of Honor recipients, “By their selfless actions, these six professionals demonstrated their commitment to the service of others.”

Jobless rate falls

For the first time in years, Idaho’s jobless rate has fallen. In April, it dropped a tenth of a point from 9.7 percent to 9.6 percent, as more than 3,000 Idahoans went back to work.

The first month-to-month drop in four years, it means the state’s economy generated more jobs than expected in April, a good sign as Idaho struggles to rebound from a deep recession.

The gain wasn’t evenly distributed throughout the state; 21 of Idaho’s 44 counties had higher unemployment rates in April than in March, while 23 saw drops. However, three of the state’s most-populated counties saw unemployment fall: Ada County’s jobless rate dropped from 9.4 percent in March to 9.1 percent in April; Canyon County’s went from 11.8 percent to 11.3 percent; and Kootenai County’s dropped from 11.2 to 11.1 percent.

Bonneville County in eastern Idaho, which has much lower unemployment, saw an increase from 7.6 percent in March to 7.8 percent in April.

All five North Idaho counties saw their jobless rates fall in April, with the largest drop in Benewah County, where the unemployment rate dropped from 14.1 percent to 13.5 percent. All five, however, remained in double digits.

Killing wolves

Idaho’s Department of Fish and Game has, for the first time, delegated authority to local law enforcement agents to kill wolves, to address a pack of about seven wolves that are suspected in attacks on dogs and livestock in Elk City, the Lewiston Tribune reported last week. Local sheriff’s deputies were given authority to kill the wolves.

Wolves are now under state management after having been removed from endangered species protections pursuant to a law passed by Congress. Already, five wolves in the Lolo zone were shot from a helicopter as part of the state’s new efforts to control wolf numbers there.

Mega-parking

The fourth and last ConocoPhillips megaload to travel U.S. Highway 12 in north-central Idaho arrived at the Montana line last week and parked for the night at Lolo Hot Springs. That meant three – count ’em, three – giant megaloads were parked at the hot springs resort at the top of Lolo Pass: the final one from ConocoPhillips; that company’s third load, which was waiting there to travel convoy-style with the fourth one; and the ExxonMobil “test validation module,” which has been stopped there since May 4 awaiting further go-aheads from the state of Montana.

A court hearing in Montana last week saw three days of testimony on a possible injunction blocking road work needed for the proposed 200-plus giant Exxon loads to proceed through that state; the judge hasn’t yet issued a ruling.

The Conoco megaloads, which are replacement parts for the company’s Billings oil refinery, are scheduled to arrive in Billings around June 8.


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