By Dave Oliveria
May 20 – If you work for the government in Idaho, chances are you’re now making more than your private-sector counterpart. Government wages passed private-sector wages this year. Statistics from the state Department of Labor showed that the average monthly wage of $3,167 for government workers at all levels – federal, state and local – was 7.2 percent above the average for all workers in the private sector in 2009.
By Rebecca Nappi
May 19 – Many years ago, I profiled several centenarians and asked a gerontologist the secret to living to 100.
He said: “Choose your parents. Wear a seat belt.” In other words, genetics and safety.
This week, the CDC released figures on seat belt use in the United States for 2009, the most recent data year.
The agency reported that “using a seat belt is one of the most effective means of preventing serious injury or death in the event of a crash. Seat belts saved an estimated 12,713 lives in 2009, but almost 4,000 additional lives could have been saved if every occupant had been buckled up.”
Eye on Boise
By Betsy Z. Russell
May 19 – The New York Times reports today that new research in Arizona and elsewhere shows private prisons don’t save states money – they actually cost more. That’s in part because the private lockups “cherry pick” the healthiest, least expensive inmates to house, leaving states to deal with the more costly portions of their prison population. “There’s a perception that the private sector is always going to do it more efficiently and less costly,” Russ Van Vleet, a former co-director of the University of Utah Criminal Justice Center, told Times reporter Richard A. Oppel Jr. “But there really isn’t much out there that says that’s correct.”
By Rich Landers
May 17 – Two northeastern Washington firefighters recently were presented National Smokey Bear awards.
Their work fills a niche that preserves state and national forests as a place for the rest of us to work and play.
Ray Kresek, curator, author and retired firefighter, received a 2011 Silver Smokey Bear Award; and John Foster Fanning, a DNR fire control forester and fire prevention specialist, received a 2011 Bronze Smokey Bear Award.
Kresek, author of “Fire Lookouts of the Northwest,” lives in Spokane, where he maintains a Fire Lookout Museum. Kresek also led the effort to preserve the Salmo-Priest Wilderness.